Manipulates Chromosomes

Published May 24, 2014 by


You’ve always been able to see… deeper. It’s impossible to describe to another person without them thinking you are either a lunatic, or a dangerous villain. You are able to feel the genetic code present in all creatures you touch or are near. Reading it like an open book, one could say.

You can change that book, at least for a short time. Making yourself or others faster and stronger for a short time is taxing, however. Perhaps you share your own genetic code with people through some… ultra-dimensional method. Maybe you can control the numenera into changing the DNA of others, but the new graft never holds for long.


GM Intrusion: Changing the basic units of life can be dangerous. In your attempt to heal, you deal damage. In your attempt to improve, you detract.


Pick a PC member. Using an artifact or cypher you were able to cure a debilitating ailment they were suffering from. They either feel indebted to you, or are hanging around you in case your are just a snake oil salesman.

Esotery Effects:

Your esoteries are based on the building blocks of life, DNA. Any esoteries provided by the Nano and Jack type function as normal. The esoteries provided by this focus affect those with biological DNA. This means that your DNA based esoteries can impact your biological allies.

Minor Effect Suggestions:
You observe someone has a debilitating genetic defect or illness. This makes intimidation and attempts to convince 1 step easier.
Major Effect Suggestions:
Demonstrating your powers causes your foes to tremble. You gain Edge 1 for your Intellect pool when targeting this enemy.
Tier 1:

Transmute Hormones (2+ Intellect points): You use up one of your recovery rolls. The amount of intellect points you spend depends on which recovery roll you are consuming. For example, if you are in combat and have spent your 1st recovery roll, it takes 2 Intellect points to spend your 2nd recovery roll, or 3 Intellect Points for your 3rd recovery roll.


Tier 2:

Organic Awareness: You can sense large clusters of organic cells within 15 feet of you. This new sense does not give you any information about the cells or the organism that they make up-only their presence and general location. Enabler.

Abstract(2 Intellect): You cause a single foe within short range to become physically ill when exposed to adrenaline. When the target performs an overtly physical action (such as swinging a weapon, moving short-long distance, anything requiring a might roll) he is dazed for Tier rounds. Action.


Tier 3:

Inversion(3 Intellect): You blast forth a wave of cell disrupting energy at a single target within long range. The target takes 6 points of cell disrupting damage that ignores armour, and all physical actions the target takes are 1 step harder.

Brittle (3 Intellect): You manipulate the cells within a biological foe’s bones (or similar organic structure), making them brittle and malleable for Tier days. Any physical attacks made with weapons against this target deal an extra 3 points of damage. Action.

Tier 4:

Anatomic Transfigure: Your constant changing of DNA has changed your own. You gain 2 cosmetic mutations, or 1 beneficial and 1 harmful mutation. Enabler.

Extremophile: You are specialized in resisting ambient environmental dangers like fire, acid, cold etc. Enabler.


Tier 5:

Messiah (5 Intellect Points): You cure one individual within immediate range of poison, disease or radiation. The amount of rounds required to cure the individual depends on how complex the ailment is. Action.

Biological Expert: You are trained in healing, performing surgery and identifying the species of an unknown creature.

Tier 6:

Berserk (6 Intellect points): You gain 6 Might points. You gain +3 Might Edge. The difficulty for any task requiring Intellect is increased by 3(besides trying to end this effect). You lose these points (if they weren’t spent) after 30 minutes. A difficulty 3 Intellect check is required to end this increase while it is still active. Action.

Locked In (6 Might Points): You gain 6 Intellect points. You gain +3 Intellect Edge. The difficulty for any task requiring Speed is increased by 3(besides trying to end this effect early). You lose these points (if they weren’t spend) after 30 seconds. A difficulty 3 Speed check is required to end this increase while it is still active. During this time you cannot move, and any attempt to move or hit you while this is active is decreased by 2 steps. You can cast esoteries in this mode, however. Action.

  • Michael

    I really love the idea of a focus for gene manipulation. I think the main problem for this, though, is that the abilities are under-powered or need to be replaced. Transmute Hormones should be like an extra recovery roll, for you or someone else, that either costs Intellect points or can only be done once per day. The points you regain currently are too low. While I like Reading of Transcription, I don’t think it’s a power that is going to be used very often, especially in games where mutations are not commonly encountered by the players. As Tier 2 abilities, I feel like the benefits of Inversion and Fibrin Overdrive need to upped slightly. DNA Locate and Atomic Transfigure are good. Cultural Singularity feels like it might have the same problem as Reading of Transcription. Berserk needs a power boost, and the negatives should be reduced. Finally, I would replace the Tier 6 ability with something extremely good, like the ability to change shape at will, or the ability to instantly mutate an enemy into oblivion, within reason.

    • I greatly appreciate the feedback. I made Transmute Hormones a recovery roll, and added DNA Locate to the first tier. I upped Inversion and made Fibrin Overdrive more of an AOE recovery roll with benefits. I made Berserk more powerful, and added an inverse version called Locked In. I took your Tier 6 ideas to heart, and went with a lore friendly version of “mutate to oblivion”. I would love any additional advice!

  • Michael

    I really like all the changes you made. My only recommendation is that Brittle Breakage’s effect should be that whenever an enemy is hit with a physical attack, they take extra damage. Something like 2 or 3 should do. I think it’ll be ready.

  • Gholan

    Hello! I like this focus a lot, it reminds me a lot of the game Geneforge which i recently played and liked.

    There are a few things I would suggest hoewever – let your special powers focus anyone. I think it makes for a much more interesting concept if you are able to apply your chromosome bending powers to others regardless of the specific power. So you could buff your comrade nano with Locked in or your fellow glaive with Berserk.
    What I don’t get is why would it be an intellect task to end this and why would it be level 6? This seems arbitrary to me, since the rules state that whoever rolls higher wins in a player vs player encounter. And since the GM rarely rolls, wouldn’t i make more sense to let you roll against the level of a targeted creature that want to resist you?

    A general thing: you manipulate chromosomes. I would suggest you keep that line straight and dont wander off.

    Tier 2
    Fibrine overdrive is a nice ability and I really love the feel of it. But why restrict it to 28 hours? You could change it so that it consumes the recovery rolls of its targets, but these recoveries only take one action and intellect may not be chosen. The +3 I would add as a bonus in. The idea behind this suggestion is, that you stretch out the natural regeneration ability of your comrades for a short term benefit.

    Inversion cool, cell disruption! Could you specifiy that the target takes either Might or Speed damage? Does it ignore armor? It would make sense if it did. I think you can leave out that it can be regenerated normally, since there are no other abilities that state anything contrary, so that is not a distinctive remark.

    Tier 3
    Plasma Overcharge I personally would exchange plasma overcharge and Inversion, because dazing a target for 1 round seems not really powerfull and befitting of a tier 3 ability. I must admit, I don’t even know what dazing does, because I could not find it in the rules. Is it the same as a stun? Or Impair? I would assume that a dazed target just does nothing for the specified ammount of time and then, id rather hit it with 5 damage and reduce its effective level by one for one round.
    Or is it more of an out of combat ability? I can see it having more uses, but it feels a bit underwhelming to be tier 3.
    Artistic question: why is this an ability befitting a manipulator of genes? The iron in our body has nothing to do with genes. This focus makes you able to alter the DNA of a living being, overheating iron (which would be pretty deadly by the way) in a body doesn’t strike me as something a character with this focus could do. You could achieve the same result via a different explanation, perhaps you scramble the targets response to adrenaline, so he gets dazed by it instead of being pushed to physical peaks.

    Brittle breakage This seems… a pretty convoluted way to go. There are more efficient ways to induce brittle bones (if you assume you had power over how cells react), like stimulating the cells that absorb bone tissue, but on the other hand, i like convoluted and its certainly weird. Ingame, I would not really care about how its done, as a reader (and since im a med student) it kind of bugs me ;). But I find the ability in and off itself pretty cool. I like all abilites that have or open synergies with other players.
    Could you specify how long the ability lasts? I had however no problem if it would go on forever (even though kidney failure would limit the lifespan of your target severly), it could make for a nice “curse”.

    Tier 4
    Anatomic transfigure Love the flair of making yourself look different. I think you could even throw in a distinctive or beneficial mutation.

    Tier 5 and 6
    I kind of feel your later abilities are more geared towards shapeshifting. Its okay, but for me, that doesn’t have the same distinctiveness as your earlier abilities. Also, for the relativly miniscule boni you get from the abilities, the drawbacks are pretty high. In the character options book, there are some nano powers that can give you temporary mutations. Maybe that would be more in line with the style of a gene bender?
    You could also play on the theme of adapting to everything, maybe you can make other creatures/characters or yourself withstand more damage, enviromental hazards (you could say that you can cure radiation sickness and damage to genes caused by it) or maybe you get a special talent like: genetic tinkering with which you can permanently improve characters or make them into living “artifacts”.
    But again, these are only suggestions and if you feel your focus is steamlined the way it is, do not let me discourage you 🙂

    GM Intrusion:
    This seems not very creative to me. Why would people call you a witch or demon? Can they see what you can do? Its not really specificly tailored to your focus, since it doesn’t come with an inability in social interactions, it does not make sense to me that this would be a specific GM Intrusion for this type of character. I would go more along the lines of either changing something you didn’t want to or changing something in a drastic way that is not to your benefit. As a GM, I like the focus itself and the things it does to be the source of the drawback, makes it more interesting and weird, if it doesn’t behave the way a player is expecting it to.

    Have a merry good day!

    • Hey, after learning (and GMing) more about the system, I returned to this focus. I referenced a lot of your ideas, let me know what you think of it now.