Campaign Defining
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Comments: 13
Ideas: 0
Rating: 3.3333
Condition: Normal
ID: 6427


August 20, 2011, 6:48 pm

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Classified Genetic Material


A cornerstone of modern biotechnology, and something that remains in the upper echelons of secrecy.

What is Classified Genetic Material?

Classified Genetic Material is a homeostatic container of biological material that is 'not of this Earth' This container is probably shiny polished steel with some blinking lights, and a temperature readout, and maybe some computer ports on it. The substance inside the container is where the proverbial biomagic is, but also plays a McGuffin role. While the material is important, and probably among the most valuable and expensive substances on the planet, in the hands of a PC it is useless. Opening the container is more likely to contaminate and destroy the sample inside than to release a new strain of super virus, spawn eldritch mutations and the like. At this stage, Classified Genetic Material is pretty much a space holder that can be filled with nuclear launch codes, Secret encrypted documents, or maltese falcons.

What role does Classified Genetic Material play?

CGM can play one of three major roles in a story; McGuffin, Handwavium, and Plot Device. As mentioned above, the McGuffin mode of CGM is that of the objective of the game. The goal is to acquire the cannister and prevent it from falling into baddie hands. Other than this, it is useless as a paper weight. The second role of the material is where it gets interesting. In its role as Handwavium the classified genetic material is a catalyst for building more advanced and alien biotechnologies. 

  • Human cloning rendered viable by applied CGM
  • Meta-gene/mutant powers created by using CGM manipulation or gene splicing
  • Synthetic materials created via biological means, such as trees that extrude plastic pellets, worms that sweat viagra, or ultrastrong steel beams grown from biological colony creatures.
  • Monsters created from CGM, be it fusing with a human host, contaminating a biosphere and making super animals (insert about 66.6% of SyFy monster movies of the week)
  • Applications of biotech too frightening or bizarre to be listed here, yet.

And finally, CGM can be used as a plot device. Contrary to the above McGuffin role, the cannister becomes an active item. The contents inside must remain inside, or the cannister must be destroyed in spectacular fashion to ensure the destruction of its contents. This cannister could be holding the alien pathogens that create zombies (and miraculous medical regeneration, but thats still tricky) to a hyperphagic space ameoba, to the remains of the monkey fired into space that is now a host to an infectious energy based lifeform that can become trapped in human nervous systems. Whatever is in inside is some seriously bad stuff. The players main goal is to protect or destroy the object, or in a grim twist deliver it to a target to be released. Zombie outbreak in Beijing? A nuke was a blessing.

Why is this a submission?

The primary reason is that this is a space holder for future submissions I have in mind. It is also a point of reference for metagaming elements, rather than something to be handed to the players in a flyer or game hand out. That is why there is no fluff text of characters interacting with, or over a cannister of alien goo. A second reason is to further expand on the basic idea of Classified Genetic Material.

Q&A to follow in comments, you ask, I'll answer and the end product will be better. Awesome ideas and applications will get co-author credit.

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Comments ( 13 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted hylandpad
August 22, 2011, 10:39

This seems to be very useable, and would fit in with any modern action RPG/Cyberpunk/40kesque tabletop game. Nice and broad, well outlined, but not without sufficient detail. Good, quality submission - I'm eager to see what submissions might be linked to this one.

August 22, 2011, 11:18
Oh man! I'd like to see a quest on this!
August 22, 2011, 12:43
I did like that little bit about how opening the vial is more likely to contaminate the contents rather than unleash an endemic virus. Thought that was clever.
August 22, 2011, 12:58
The whole tiny sample starts the end of the world plot is painfully overused, how often do you have to protect the sample from the outside world versus the cliche?
August 22, 2011, 14:47
My answer to that is "not enough."
August 23, 2011, 3:06
Hylandpad: epidemic or pandemic; endemic means limited to a region.

Alas - I would love to have a CGM quest.
August 27, 2011, 17:21
Good call. I think I meant epidemic.
Voted Dossta
August 22, 2011, 17:57

Extremely useable?  Check.  Spawns new ideas?  Double-check.  Good enough to be a quest?  Check.  All in all, a great, quality submission.  I'll have to stew on this one for awhile, but I can already feel the idea-germs bubbling away inside my cranium.

Voted MysticMoon
August 24, 2011, 21:08

This is an excellent starting point. I am also intrigued at the possibilities. Perhaps we should have some sort of metagaming tag for subs like this. (The programmer in me sees this and instantly thinks, "Cool, an ADT, gaming-style.")

Voted Siren no Orakio
August 24, 2011, 23:37

This is basically parts of a trope outlined. Useful, but not fun until you make something with it. Good point about protecting it from the outside more than protecting the outside from it - it's a glass McGuffin instead of a mighty one, but, still works pretty well. 

May dovetail well with an adventure / setting such as the Mad Menangerie - an appropriate prize to put at the center. If you get there before, once again, Dr. Jones, we see that there is nothing (Rival) cannot take away from you. 

August 24, 2011, 23:50
At this point it is intended to be a tool rather than a toy.
Voted axlerowes
August 25, 2011, 7:45

In one now famous shadowrun campaign from the 90s, when the anti-heros reach the room with the CGM, they find a thousand pound cow.  The cow is the vehicle for the CGM and they have to lead the cow through firefights and make stealth escapes with cooperative thousand bound beast that can neither scale walls or fit in a standard size automobile.  I am more or less with Hylandpad on this, if this is a submission on McGuffins or sci-fi hand waiving then it could use some more build up in those areas.  There is odd mix of specific and generalities in this that negates much of the value.  This could be interesting lead into to a discussion on these topics. . .


One thing we fanboy/rpg types have in common is that we often don't enjoy media for the content alone, but rather we see the speculative fiction, high concept and high design ideas as jumping off point for own ideas.  (This isn't just me, there is a whole doctoral dissertation written around that very thesis).  Thus I could see this being enjoyed as a story primer.  But as actual tool for direct use in gaming, it doesn't offer much, at least nothing not already covered in Cobra's quest to make Serpentor, the TMNT origin story, 12 monkeys, and another of other stories.    

Voted valadaar
July 9, 2013, 13:28
I have nothing to add that has not been already been said, as I am in agreement with most of the comments here.

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: ephemeralstability

The city of Nausopol is built on stilts. Lots of very sturdy stilts and butresses, of course, because it rises about five hundred feet from the ocean. Even the most terrific of storms is only heard in the city as a distant cacophony of blasts as waves strike the solid stonework fathoms below. It has never been attacked because of its isolation and impregnability.

It's not a place for the faint-hearted: vertigo and sea-sickness are not desirable traits. But when you are standing in the middle of the city there is no way you could tell that you were standing above an ocean, separated only by a gulf of air and a few stones.

A thousand steps lead down from Nausopol to the floating docks. These docks are pitch-coated wooden and can be raised by winches during squalls. Trade with other cities and countries is good: Nausopol is built over a sunken atoll whose minerals are still mined by divers, and it was from this that it originally derived its wealth.

But the principal method of getting to and from the city is by riding the giant sea-eagles which have been captured and bred for that very reason.

Ideas  ( Locations ) | September 24, 2002 | View | UpVote 2xp

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