Caring too much about people's problems and you.
So you've decided to mostly give up a life of killing shit.
What's it do?
Empath is basically the ultimate mutation for those who want high focus and nonviolent skills, and comes with a variety of advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest disadvantage is being unable to kill anything considered to be a living thing, as it'll give you a fairly large amount of stress and put you into shock depending on your focus skill. So you're probably not going to kill anything anymore, really, unless you've got enough focus. Only ghosts, robots and zombies are not considered to be living things. (see 9269 on *bugs) However, nothing is physically stopping you from killing things. Just be prepared to be rooted in place for a bit due to massive amounts of shock when you do kill anything. Also, things dying in your room, your current area, adjacent areas, and anywhere in the world will also give you stress. The chances of gaining stress from those deaths decrease as it gets further away area wise. You will also get stress from being around any living thing that is stressed. The amount of stress you get from being around stressed players seems to be the average of everyone's stress level in the room.
On the upside, you get +1 brains, +2 senses, +3 focus, and +2 medic, +3 to Medium's seek, and an unknown bonus to Plant Whisperer's fertilize. And beyond that you also get thecommand, which can destress other players. You also get which allows you to transfer their stress to you, absorb their horny, and also absorb any mental illnesses the target has. You may end up with their mental illnesses if your focus is too low, but if it's high enough it'll be eliminated all together. However, being an empath allows you to slowly wash away any of your own acquired mental illnesses over time. Lastly, you naturally destress if you're hanging out with other players that are stress free.
So, I can't kill shit at all?
No, you can kill non-living things, like robots, ghosts and zombies. Nothing is stopping you from killing living things as well. Just be prepared to suffer massive amounts of stress and shock per kill.
Can I help my friends out in the field?
Generally you're not really kept from providing sideline assistance, although the death issue does make things rather complicated, and one of the other effects from empath makes it so other people's stress also stresses you, so if they use a lot of focus mutations you're going to get incredibly stressed. Things dying near you will also give you a large amount of stress and will occasionally send you into shock. You'll typically end up slowing the entire group down as they have to wait for your shock to go away before you can move. Overall, if you want to actually help your friends out in the field, empath is not the way to go as anyone else can do just as good of a job as you while also being able to participate in combat without actually slowing the group.
Well, I still want it, how do I get it?
There's not much that can be said about it that won't be spoilery, but it really helps to have a lot of climb, someone who can craft, either you or someone else, and the ability to tear through a bunch of zombies. Talk to Guru, and you'll get on your way.
That's too vague. Please hold my hand.
Seriously? Alright, here's the quickest way to get it. Go to Berkeley Psychic Institute. Search the one outdoor tile there for a BSI Badge. Go to the basement and look for a dreamwalker helmet recipe. Now, leave and go craft the dreamwalker helmet, or get someone else to do it (or just ask around to see if there's one you can borrow from a player). You need very good climb and excellent fighting capabilites for the next part, or a friend who has both and can drop ropes for you (note: you still need at least 16 total climb to not fuck up scaling the ropes). Make your way to Mount Fisty and speak to the guru. Give him the badge, and from there he will tell you to climb to the peak of the mountain. This is where you need to either have or be a strong fighter and climber. You will have to succeed multiple extremely difficult climbs, some of them being up to 50m long, and the Thunderbirds will rip your unprepared ass to shreds. Once you make it to the top, Make your way back down to the guru and repeat 'learn' to him until his dumb ass finally registers that you did his challenge. He should give you the first bit of information you need to get Empath, 'themselves'. There are two other challenges he gives you, but you only need to complete the first one, climbing fisty, to complete the quest. Make your way back to Berkeley with the helmet that you should have gotten earlier, and bring a tough buddy. Head back to the basement and plug into the dreamwalker device. Go down the hall until you find a man. He will ask you three questions. The first answer, which you got from the guru, is 'themselves', the second 'five conjunctions', and the third 'the self' (you may have to repeat an answer until it registers properly if he bugs out and says you don't really know what the answer means). Once you are admitted into the institute, proceed and mutate. Sometimes, the area does not automatically kick you out of the device after mutating. To resolve this, have your buddy kill and revive you. Congratulations, you're an Empath.
Well, lastly, it can't be stressed enough. Do not get empath unless you have a ton of focus, like say, in the mid 30s, or else you're going to find it incredibly fucking annoying to have. If you have a very low focus you'll be getting stressed and shock from things dying all over the world.
Notes from a griefpath
It is possible to live a constructive and grief fulfilling life with this mutation. Stress can be a killer but with some care, and the help of some other mutations, it is easy to live with. Like cancer.
Hideous freak does nothing to the stress Empath dishes out, and being a freak empath basically destroys your ability to idle without stressing the fuck out of yourself, because the admins thought ahead and made it so you couldn't get rid of Empath's main downside, the ambient stress stuff, just by getting a single racial mutation commonly associated with an easy out to stress. In fact, aside from focus mutes reducing stress when used, Empaths have an even harder time in freak form as they instead get stress from NOT being around stressed people, which means basically being stressed over time since people are generally smart and don't stay stressed as hell. Be reminded that having triggers that auto-use focus commands when idle just to keep you stress-free is just as hard on the server as basically doing it to grind and is against the rules.
If you don't mind cutting yourself off from the rest of humanity then hiding in your apartment is an attractive solution to the unwanted effects of Empath. This kind of ruins the whole point of playing unless you like decorating a lot.
All the cool Empaths are vampires. The boost to focus and +10 cool from vampire, enigma and bling soaks most of the stress making it possible to murder jerks all day long, 20 cool reduces stress gains by half. Feeding will also take away your stress and the additional brains and senses are always useful for feinting and spewing your idiot fagpire cousins.