The process for creating Elixer, more officially known as Retroviral Strelitzia-02-016 or RVS-2-16, is as simple as it is difficult. The retroviral begins at psychomagnetheric slime, the ectoplasm that composes hekatonkheires and plasmids. There is an extensive catalog of psychomagnetheric materials, and even more oozes to pick and choose from. But the winner winner chicken dinner was derived from the deathless carcass of some sort of damn monster the Foundation found down in Antarctica, up in the highlands, far from the coast.
One of the pipe dreams of the military planners of the Cosmic Era was the creation of parapsychic supersoldiers. Not the haphazard fashion that they were creating, drawing potential candidates from various geofronts, gulags, and other human cesspools, but deliberately. The connection between human suffering and parapsychic potential is known, but it is inconvenient. Those who have suffered sufficiently and deeply enough to manifest said powers are likely to not embrace values like loyalty, patriotism, military duty, or statism. This is inconvenient. To say the least.
Elixer has been generations in the making, and the number of human test subjects that have been expended to this end is ghastly.
Also known as SPKs, or derogatory, parasites.
The Parasite has access to the same parapsychic powers as traditional conduits, but there are a number of limitations. These are all game mechanics side, and demonstrate that a naturally erupted and manifested PK will always have vastly more potential than the SPK.
Cost - advancing ranks in skills costs more for SPKs. This should be in the vicinity of 20-33% more in terms of experience cost.
Checks - normal parapsychic checks are open ended, allowing for some truly stupendous displays of supernatural power. SPKs do not have open ended power checks, they do not re-roll critical successes, and their critical successes do not grant any bonuses.
Burn - being synthetic in nature, SPKs cannot 'overload' or go into a fully on state. This is a hazard for normal PKs, who run the risk of being stuck 'on' and unable to control their powers. The SPK who goes into a burning state will have a much lower spike in PK ability, but once it subsides, their power will be blown completely out, providing they survive the experience.
The process of creating the Elixer took several decades to come to fruition. Thousands of men and women have undergone experimental treatment, some willing, most not even knowning, but the majority of outcomes were... tragic. For every success, there were dozens of dead bodies, and in the early years, almost every success ended in subject termination as they were to unstable or insane to function in a military environment.
People cost costs differently. Some will count the number of corpses piled behind the Elixer. Others will count the financial cost. That number is high, no doubt, but it is largely insignificant compared to the budgets of military forces. A number of corporations were chartered, and folded. Many people, scientists, engineers, politicians, were discovered in their various roles and were tried for crimes against humanity and nature. The cost has been high, and many opinions, irredeemably so.
There are expected side effects of undergoing Elixer therapy. The most common is compromised blood chemistry, SPKs can be detected by a visual inspection of a blood slide. A blood chemistry test can actually determine the amounts of Elixer that has been given.
Blood Fever - extensive use of synthetic powers can trigger what amounts to an immuno-allergic reaction. This typically manifests as a fever coupled with nightmares and mental disturbances. This is more commonly and insultingly known as parasite fever.
Cancer - typically tied to the specific manifestation of synthetic power, the onset of cancer is generally more of a when, than an if. Parasites dont tend to live to retirement age.
Hemophilia - in varying degrees, SPKs are prone to bleeds.
The Elixer treatment can be gauged for a specific desired outcome. While not massively accurate, the treatment can reliably produce physical parapsychic adepts, or specifically create mental adepts. The actual manifestation is still in large part random, but a person who receives intravenous therapy can reasonably expect to become a physical adept while the person who has their elixer administered through a spinal tap is much more likely to manifest mental powers.
Synthetic parapsychics perform on a level well below natural parapsychics. Their creation is simply doesn't have access to the same potential, and the cornerstone of a natural parapsychic allows them to dig into their own personal trauma to magnify their powers, even at the potential for self harm or even death. The synthetic parapsychic simply doesn't have this dynamic ability. However, they need not be emotionally and spiritually traumatized individuals, and most all come from elite special forces and commando backgrounds. This gives them far more training and discipline than the average normal PK. Thus, the synth cannot hurl a tank across a battlefield in a superhuman fury, but the synth can use their power to make sure an RPG hits a vital spot, or to pull the pins on a foe's grenade bandolier, or other small actions. Normal parapsychics are tremendously powerful, but more difficult to control while the synth can do more with much less, but are reliant
The goal of the program wasn't to replace the natural parapsychic, it was to create a supersoldier who could use parapsychic and psychotronic weaponry and tools, rather than have these potent weapons tied to said natural parapsychics.
The Parasite Trooper is intended to use their limited parapsychic ability to link to a 'psychoframe' suit, and make it act like a living extension of their body, be it a basic hardsuit, power armor suit, or even a main battlemech. These psychoframe equipped war machines would have reflexes and accuracy that blend human agility with machine precision. Likewise, the weapon systems in these suits are psychotech, requiring parapsychic ability to activate and control them. This includes mundane weapons like beam weapons and missiles, as well as the much more powerful and dangerous arcanotech weapons.
Alternate formulae were investigated, and there is not a single 'elixer'. There are many different variants, and the most successful elixers are actually tailored for use by specific codex series clones, the two literally designed for each other. Likewise, the main serum is constantly being improved and evolving to be more effective, more reliable.
Somantic Type - the Somantic elixir is injected into the muscles and organs of the host, with the intent of inducing parapsychic augmented strength, and agility.
Parakinetic Type - injected into the spinal cord, this variant elixir is intended to induce telekinetic and parakinetic parapsychic powers. This is mostly intended to create gun adepts. The soldiers created from PK type injections are exceptional commandos.
Psychomantic Type - injected directly into sections of the brain, psychomantic elixir induces the development of mind manipulation, clairvoyance and other purely mental 'psychic' type powers.
There are a number of failed Elixirs. The only ones worth mentioning are those that partially worked, or worked in unreliable manners. The elixirs that didn't produce results, or the ones that only reduced test subjects to stacks of corpses, are not spoken of.
Fury Type - the Fury Elixir created physically impressive soldiers, but all of the test subjects developed a corpse like pallor. They also developed behavioral problems, emotional detachment, and eventually become unresponsive unless harassed or attacked. Unless given IVs and feeding tubes, the Fury subjects perished from starvation or dehydration. The only way to keep them viable was a mixture of suspended animation with their minds in simulation, followed by launching them into missions like berserker bombs.
Elixir 9 - the Nines Parasites manifested impressive powers, but almost immediately developed serious cancer. The cancer spreads as a rugose mass of tubules, and pulsing veins, and quickly causes death. But for a few weeks, the Nines are impressive mecha pilots and power armor parasites.
Once a person is exposed to the elixir, they enter a life of constant medical observation and maintenance. The two main angles of observation are to make sure the elixir is remaining at a steady level. If the chemical bonds start to weaken, it can compromise the user's ability to use parapsychic powers. If the levels of elixir rise too high, it can cause 'Parasite Fever' or compromise the oxygen saturation ability of their blood. Blood panels are run normally, to make sure that cancer hasn't set in. This is usually met with aggressive chemotherapy and gene-therapy. Finally, the elixir users are subjected to regular psychological evaluation.
The use of elixir is relatively uncommon in the CE. 'Parasites' are used as Elite Commandos, and work as support for full Parapsychic operatives, or as borderline supersoldiers themselves. They sit in an uncomfortable position. They are not trusted by the rank and file soldiers, for their treatments. Likewise Parasites are looked down on by full blooded parapsychics as being fake, or just weaker than them.
Parasites are deployed in general squads. Infantry/commando squads run as elite special forces. Parasites who specialize in piloting work in special role mecha squads. They form insular circles, looking down on the regulars, and sneering at the non-parasite parapsychics, whom they outnumber greatly.
Elite Mooks - Parasites can introduce a tier of opponents that are superior to the best of normal human ability, without venturing fully into the realm of sometimes superhero/cosmic horror type parapsychics. They are also much less quirky, and do things with tactical efficiency. Carrie was a hell of a pyromancer parapsychic, but a single sniper would have snuffed her with a single shot.
Elite Reinforcements - busting onto the scene like some Tom Clancy Rainbow 6 night vision goggle wearing body armor rocking bullet dancing badboys of ass kicking, Parasite commandos can ride to the rescue of a squad of shadowrunners.
Therapy and Hell - the PCs themselves are Parasites and have to balance the line of keeping sharp and frosty, and succumbing to PTSD, hallucinations, paranoia, and health problems.