Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ego Sprite

Ego sprites are interesting because they aren't real.  They're a bit like pseudo-imaginary dinosaurs in that way.

You walk into a room and look at it, and it looks like a creature, but it's not.  It's a shared hallucination.  It's the manifestation of a meme-infested mind, not a creature on it's own.  It's a self-contained meme that resonates more strongly than the other ideas in your brain.

In that way, it's similar to a brain tumor.  Except outside of your head.  And it's contagious.

All ego sprites desire the same thing: attention.  Their plan to gain attention is sometimes circumlocutious, but it always boils down to the same result.

It is often difficult to pin down exactly what an ego sprite is, since they often resemble angels or demons.  In fact, some theorize that ego sprites are simply nascent godlings.  According to this theory, once an ego sprite has grown powerful enough to erase its ignoble circumstances of birth (possibly as an especially captivating graffito), it will establish itself as a god.

A picture of an ego sprite is an ego sprite.  It doesn't "summon" an ego sprite, it is the ego sprite.  Anyone who has seen an ego sprite before can draw that ego sprite.  Anyone who draws a picture of an ego sprite permanently loses 1 point of Charisma, so great is their investment.  

Ego Sprites are also sometimes drawn spontaneously by especially sensitive artists of any skill level.  Think Pygmalion, but also think hallucinatory mad man.

Ego sprites always resemble beautiful creatures, usually people of some impossible anatomy.  Maximally-resonant memes can have many appearances, but here are some examples (d6):

  1. Feathered serpent containing all possible colors.  Head like a beaked horse.
  2. Narrow, spindly man-shape with a head like a needle and a voice like heartbreak.
  3. Blue-skinned woman with malleable flesh and gemstone eyes.  
  4. A collection of glassy marbles that fly through the air.
  5. Old woman that is actually a crab below the waist.  Has another, younger woman inside of her, visible through her mouth.
  6. Man who is being controlled by two impossibly beautiful sock puppets.
And here are some sample powers:
  1. Fear.  At 10 HD, this is reversed (people become afraid to run away) and permanent within a 20' range.
  2. Color Spray.  At 10 HD, people have their senses of color permanently altered, and forever-more become unable to tell what color an object is (because they cannot describe the impossible colors that their eyes now see).
  3. Sleep.  At 10 HD, creatures that are put to sleep with this ability dream only of the ego sprite.  This counts as attention, and they will sleep until dawn.
  4. Cure Light Wounds.  At 10 HD, creatures that the ego sprite heals change shape subtly to resemble the ego sprite.  After an ego sprite has healed you 3 or more times, you resemble a pale imitation of the ego sprite.
  5. Reduce Person.  At 10 HD, this ability shrinks a person to the size of a mouse.
  6. Confusion.  At 10 HD, this ability causes portions of the target's memories to be overwritten with whatever fiction the ego sprite sees fit.

Plan to get attention:

  1. Strife.  Gangland drama or philosophic controversy.
  2. Lust and open adoration.  Possibly going as far as to be a cult, but cults are lazy fiction.
  3. High-society parties.
  4. Glory, usually through good works and displays of benevolence. Cheap sainthood.
  5. Public spectacle: circuses, public plays, etc.
  6. Control of an institution: orphanage, hospital, etc.
  1. Sword
  2. Stave
  3. Scythe
  4. Needle
  5. Fork
  6. Golden Hand/Claw of Disintegration.
  7. Eye Lasers
  8. Black Hole Anti-breath
by Peter Mohrbacher


Ego Sprite
HD X  AC chain Weapon Varies
Move 12  Int as smart as the smartest observer  Morale 7
Special Charm Person OR Special Power 3/day

An ego sprite's HD is equal to the number of people who are paying attention to it.  If no one is paying attention to it, it dies.  (Attention equals focusing on it, not merely being aware of it's presence).  An ego sprite with 1 HD is the size of your hand.  An ego sprite with 6 HD is the size of a human.  Ego sprites with 7+ HD may grow to be giants, or may remain human-sized.

A person can ignore an ego sprite if (a) the ego sprite is not slapping them, caressing them, or yelling in their ear AND (b) making a Wisdom check.  If the ego sprite is somewhere else and the person is doing an unrelated task (making breakfast, reading a book), they forget about the sprite if they roll under Wisdom * 2.

An ego sprite's weapon does 1dX damage, where X is equal to HD, rounded down to the nearest die size (min 1d4).

An ego sprite gives XP = maximum HD reached * 10 XP.

by Franz Wacik

Ego sprites can arise pretty much spontaneously.  It's possible that the PCs witness something conceptually momentous (e.g. angel sex, Cthulhu's butthole) and an ego sprite springs fully-formed from their mind.  You might even want to put ego sprites on your Insanity table.

If an ego sprite has only a single person paying attention to it, it's going to be very demanding.  They can't let you fall asleep after all.

Ego sprites rarely appear as bad guys at first blush.  (And in fact, they don't have to be strictly villainous.)  A tiny ego sprite knows that it depends on getting more people to pay attention to it, and handles that dependency with appropriate caution at low levels.  After all, most PCs wouldn't immediately kill a tiny, blue-skinned woman who follows them around casting cure light wounds and asking to please be brought back to civilization.  Plus, they're all liars.

Player: And this is the rest of my party.  This is Fitarr, and Hand, and--hey!  Did you just get bigger?
Ego Sprite: That's my angelic nature!  I regain strength whenever I regain hope!

Et cetera.

Ego sprites don't kill mass amounts of people.  Still, they can disrupt a lot of people's lives with their charm person ability and huge followings.  If the town watch is too busy fawning over an ego sprite that just showed up in their barracks, they won't be able to protect the town.  So they can do a lot of damage that way.

And if an ego sprite ever grows to god-like power, they might just vanish, taking thousands of people with them and most of the city, leaving nothing except for a handful of empowered clerics ready to spread the gospel of a new religion.

And yes, an ego sprite at the center of a 1000-person orgy is going to have enough HP to shrug off pretty much any damage the PCs through at it.  Trying to kill it with a save-vs-death is also going to have slim chances of success.  But the attention dependency is the real big weakness:  Pump some sleeping gas into that room, put everyone to sleep, and the ego sprite will die so fast that you'll swear that you don't deserve all this XP.

by Michael Hutter

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