Basilisk Image
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Basic Information

A basilisk image is an image which "crashes the human mind by triggering thoughts that the mind is physically or logically incapable of thinking"[2].

See Also


Game and Story Use

  • A villain who controls such an image has a powerful weapon indeed. Stopping him will be very difficult, as he can easily drive any attackers mad - so if the PCs chase after him, they need to limit their exposure to him as much as possible.
    • A terrorist who wants to drive as many people insane as possible wants to show a Basilisk Image on prime time television. Before doing so, he attempts to drive ratings as high as possible - and the PCs only have the duration of the show to find and stop him.
      • The "Justice League" episode "Wild Cards" uses this plot, and may be mined for inspiration.
      • As an interesting wrinkle, the villain has anticipated the simple solution to his broadcast (turning off the power to the broadcaster of the apparent carrier show) - the acutal basilisk image is on the test card (or whatever screenshot is used to cover the gap in tranmission).
  • The PCs encounter someone who is immune to the basilisk image - either as the only survivor or as some other part of the quest. What does it say about them that the image doesn't harm them? Is it a form of glamour failure or something more mundane? With a memetics based weapon something like autism could be enough, for more fundamental attacks something less mundane will be required. For scientific (or thaumatological) PCs the survivor may be the key to a cure or vaccine.
  • If you use a basilisk image, you should work out exactly what it does:
    • What are the effects of exposure? A lot of these suggestions are based on death or permanent insanity, but there's other possibilities: rendering something painted with the image invisible as the visual cortex edits it out, temporarily incapacitating anyone who sees it (and possibly slipping in a post-hypnotic suggestion while the brain reboots), blocking targeted brain functions such as memory or self control
    • What defenses exist? Blindness is the obvious one, but there might be others. An augmented reality filter might be able to render the image as something harmless, and artificial intelligences and the like might be immune. Or there's the mundane defense: someone recognizes the image for what it is, and looks away.
    • If the image is survivable, how much does the target remember? Anything at all? Vague, dreamlike recollections? Enough to recreate the image? Enough to suffer flashbacks?
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