Shadowrun - The Titans of Old
The Dangers of HMHVV
HMHVV (or Human-Metahuman Vampiric Virus) is a retrovirus that achieves its full virulence and power only in a magic-rich environment—such as post-Awakening Earth. The virus itself has existed throughout history and even expressed in very rare instances during the relatively magic-poor Fifth World. When a metahuman’s immune system fails to stave off infection, the virus begins to systematically re-shape their auras and genetic code—transforming them into forms reminiscent of the night-stalking monsters of legend.
The presence of HMHVV in a subject’s body can be determined by the Harz-Greenbaum blood series or simply testing for the virus itself.
In layman’s terms, HMHVV is a magically mutated variation of the old HIV. Anyone bitten, scratched or exposed to biological elements from a carrier is likely to contract the disease and undergo a painful, hideous and permanent transformation into something that stalks the night.
There are numerous different strains of the virus, the most common being the Krieger strain that transforms metahumans in ghouls. Light sensitive, flesh eating individuals who often find sanctuary in the slums and sewers of the Sixth World. Many countries have standing bounties on HMHVV infected individuals and ghouls (thankfully) make up the vast majority of them.
Unfortunately, different strains can affect different metahumans in a variety of ways. While any metatype can become ghouls, dwarves might become nigh-skeletal goblins or gremlins while an elf may become a soul drinking banshee. And let’s not even contemplate what can happen to the trolls.
Best practice for dealing with the infected is either 1) don’t or 2) come wearing environmentally sealed armour and putting them down before they get too close. Sadly, they rarely give you the option for either of these.
All is not doom and gloom however, many individuals who find themselves grasping a one way ticket to monsterdom maintain all their mental faculties. Their personality, ethics and reason remain untouched, but are forced to confront their new reality of only being able to feed on metahuman flesh. Most who do so are forced into hiding alongside their more feral brethren, but a few are resourceful enough to retreat from the public eye and cut a deal with local gangs or a coroner to gain a ready supply of fresh meat.