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Concrete Dreams

Posted: Nov. 26, 2005

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Red Dwarf, the somewhat idiosyncratic British sci-fi comedy series, runs every Saturday on PBS. This weeks episode, “Confidence and Paranoia” is from the series’ first season.

In it Lister (the last surviving human) wanders into an undecontaminated section of the 3-million year old Jupiter Mining Corporation Starship Red Dwarf. He contracts a disease that once was pneumonia, but is no longer. This disease, which has radically mutated during the Dwarf’s 3 million-year voyage into deep space, has the unusual capability of being able to bring its host’s hallucinations to life. Lister hallucinates the two halves of his personality- Confidence and Paranoia- and much comedy ensues.

Transliterated into Torg terms, the hallucinogenic bacterium would most likely be a disease native to Aylse. This disease has a natural affinity for conjuration magic.

Concrete Dreams (Disease)

Damage: 13
conjuration magic: 10
Axiom: 16 (The conjuration magic Trait requires a 16, the disease itself requires a 12.)

This disease can spread through airborne, bodily fluids, or touch. Once a character comes into contact with the disease, he must make a Toughness check vs. the damage value of the bacterium (13). If successful, the character spends a couple of hours in a high fever, then recovers. If unsuccessful, the character spends a couple of hours in a high fever, then appears to recover.

It is this second stage of the disease which is most dangerous. Once an hour, the disease can use its conjuration magic skill to create anything its host has been thinking of, either in the delirium of the fever or during the second stage. The difficulty for this is 10. There is no backlash. If the bacterium fails to manifest a conjuration, it takes a “wound.” After four wounds, it is “dead” and the victim quickly recovers.

If the bacterium beats the Difficulty Number, it has successfully summoned forth a hallucination. The bacterium prefers hallucinations which will allow its host to come into close contact with other potential hosts, so as to spread itself. The disease is contagious only during this second stage.

The hallucinations are all real, and cannot be disbelieved. They have the appropriate stats and skills (see the various creature chapters). In general, the virus can only generate creatures of roughly man size and smaller. If smaller, it can create a large number of them, such as a rain of fish.

Characters can make a second Toughness check after 24 hours of second stage. The DN of this check is 7. If this succeeds, the disease is conquered. Otherwise, the character sickens, entering fever stage again. After (Toughness) hours, he dies.

Once a character has been exposed to this disease, they generate anti-bodies. They then have a +3 bonus modifier to all Toughness checks against any future outbreaks of concrete dreams.

Many village mages have learned a suppress dreams spell which is tailored to overcome the magical effects of the concrete dreams disease. Concrete dreams requires a Magic axiom of 12 to exist. It will quickly sicken and die in a lower axiom environment.

Updated: Nov. 26, 2005
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