In 3 CE, throughout Sirian, as if it were a deliberately planned and staged event, multiple individuals in large communities at the rising of the sun caught 'flame' - a ribbon of pure red light burst forth from their temples and encircled their heads. Later it would be clear the affected individuals were all of a particular sort: those gifted with psionic powers.
In the first few moments, each stood, stepped out into the street or onto a rooftop and stared directly at the sun, ignoring everything else around them, including panicked loved ones trying to jar them out of the strange trance. The infected then collapsed into what seemed to be lasting comas. Naturally, family and friends of the infected sought to take care of them, taking them to the nearest hospital or medical center.
Then The Crowned woke at sunset.
Not quite Unlife these new infected, called the "Crowned" due to the ring around their heads, awoke from their comas and began wreaking destruction with ruthless efficiency throughout every major urban center across the globe. They first sought out others with latent psionic potential in their vicinity, causing them to grow their own Crowns to match. Those without psionic abilities were simply possessed, mentally dominated by the Crowned and used as labor drones.
Unlike the much more feral Unlife, The Crowned are calm, calculating, tactical entities. Early encounters suggest that the Crowned infection is highly intelligent, gathering and controlling hordes of people and Unlife to aid in a systematic elimination of human life. They seem able to harness at least some of the knowledge and skills of the unfortunate host. The source of the infection is still unknown, as is its motivation beyond propagating itself and eliminating human life.
For the victims, not all those possessed by the Crowned are permanently lost. The mental domination by the Crowned appears to have a very limited range, and those rescued from a swarm and taken far enough away from its Crowned queen can recover all faculties given enough time to psychologically recover.
The Crowned themselves appear to be beyond healing. The affliction affected Fleet personnel lightyears away from Sirian Planet and has devastated the Elfin across the galaxy, so any psionically-active persons are at a constant risk for becoming Crowned. Initial infection appears to be tied to the direct use of said abilities, thankfully, so there is some ability for a very disciplined person to greatly reduce their chance of becoming infected.
Crowned appear to operate independent of one another and very seldom operate in groups (not counting their swarms). Within a swarm, a Crowned has a strong connection with all the members of the swarm and their senses, like an extension of their own nervous system. The Crowned can communicate with and command part or all of their swarm at the speed of thought, making them incredibly dangerous.
For rules on how Crowned affects operate in play, refer to the Crowned Rules page.