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Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Godbound: Host of the Guardian Deities

Blame a steady dose of God Eater (which I mentioned as possible inspiration for a game here), Code Vein (which I am currently playing) and some happenstance discussion on the infamous Stormcast Eternals of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar which resulted in the revelation that Stormcasts are actually one of the most anime things in current Warhammer. Now combine all this with Godbound being the default system/setting of the blog and you get an abomination.

Things are going to get a bit more 'anime' in here albeit not so obviously (or a way you'd think) at first.

Taken From Mortality, Reforged Into Weapons

Art by Francois Cannel
Picture a place similar to the Bright Republic, if you will: on the surface very much like 20th or early 21st century Earth. You have electronic devices, you have television, you have cars and all those things we take for granted today. In truth, this is not Earth: it is but a fragment of what was once the world, where the Former Empires fought with Made Gods to control the Throne of Heaven. This place is in truth nothing but a fragment, a Realm floating inside the Uncreated Night. The truth of its nature hidden by the world governments. Leave this large island nation and the sea grow dark and full of mutated monsters, the ocean buffeted by horrible storms which bring flotsam and jetsam of other worlds.

Now picture a young man, late teenage years. The kind of person who is suitably generic enough to be an Anime protagonist. His sister died a few years back in a tragic accident. So tragic and brutal that it was a closed casket funeral. In truth, her body was never found because there was no body. As this young man is coming back from school, unbeknownst to him, he's being stalked by a monster which has found the right resonating energies and complex metaphysical frequencies inside his soul and flesh. The creature attack, nearly killing him when in a flash of light a woman in fearsome-looking biomechanical armor arrives and vanquish the monster. She retracts her helmet to reveal she's, in fact, his thought-to-be dead sister. She says to him that their 'Host' (whatever that is) has suffered crippling losses and need to replenish their ranks and while she dislikes it, she and her superior knows her brother is metaphysically well suited to the task. She explain to him that usually they take people during or after their moment of death but sometimes they just grab people while they still live. Before he can ask what is going on, two more of these strange people appear to take him, expecting his sister to hesitate at the last second. At this moment, more monsters attack and his sister decide to fend them off while the two figures take her brother to another place.

She dies a suitably tragic death which makes for a very good scene for episode 1! Gotta have some punch in the first episode, especially if the next five are boring. But I digress.

The Guardians are artificial demigods created by a being simply called the Maker. In truth, He is a horribly crippled Made God whose very body, bones and metaphysical energies were bound to the Realm the once-mortal Guardians come from. Through his shattered yet still very extensive knowledge theotechnical enhancements he has passed on to various Sages the knowledge to create a form of Arrayed (artificial Godbounds) to serve as protectors and warriors. Guardians are organized into small, independent cells called Hosts which consist of a home base, the Theurge technicians which maintain them and roughly between two and five Guardians.

Each Host only has the resources to sustain a limited number of Guardians. Each of them is a powerful but unstable demigod. Guardians are semi-immortal, but at a severe cost. Should their mind/soul survive the destruction of their body and the core of their form be recovered a Guardian can be reconstructed, This form of immortality is not without serious drawbacks, as each resurrection has a severe toll on their still-mortal minds and their metaphysical matrix. Each resurrection exort a toll/price: from loss of emotion, loss of some senses, loss of memory to the more extreme where they 'glitch'. After only two or three deaths a Guardian is a shell of their former self which often exude a sense of deep 'wrongness' to mortals. Most demand to be put out of their misery eventually, their core. One would assume such a death isn't too common but it does happen among the Guardians, more so than in other Pantheons. As lesser, incomplete artificial Godbound they are weaker than the baseline from the Godbound core book.

In a nutshell: Godbound+Warframe+Stormcast Eternals channeled through series like God Eater, Gantz, Claymore, Evangelion and Madoka Magica.

Form and Function

Boris Tsui's art of this Stormcast lady seems relevant.
As previously established, a Guardian is a form of Lesser Godbound and Arrayed. Their physical human form is destroyed and remade, merged with a core of rare and expensive theotechnical materials which act as a form of matrix which contain the information of their form, mind and souls. While artificial in nature, their biomechanical flesh mimic the real deal quite well (unless damaged and glitching).
  • At will (or automatically, when threatened) a Guardian's form become biomechanical. This looks like a suit of smooth, organically-shaped metal (usually of some bronze or coppery color, but there are ways to 'repaint' it, as it is one form of personal identity and vanity they are allowed to have). This is not technically armor by default. The mask of a Guardian looks like a fearsome face with a mane of brightly colored hair, not unlike a Buddhist Guardian Deity (or 'Fierce Deity') which are their namesake.
  • Should a Guardian decide to wear armor, it will seamlessly fused and merge with their 'shell'. The process can be reversed instantly and at will. This allow them to use equipment as they see fit but ensure it will not clash with their built-in augments.
  • Guardians are chosen from fairly young people because they can adapt to the change from the transformation and rebirths more easily and will go crazy later.
As Lesser Godbound, the Guardians are still mighty but considerably less so than a basic and complete Godbound. In combat they can easily shrug off attack from lesser foes just fine but fighting a more serious threat like a Parasite God or mightier Uncreated will require everything a team/Host has to emerge victorious. They walk a fine thread between the heroic-level play of Godbound and the high risk, high reward style of other games.

In spite of all this, the Guardians are still Godbound and thus deities even if their limited state. They have 'handlers' for sure, the Sages, those theotechnical experts. Their creator, the Maker, only has a limited window of communication and thus each Host is left to its own devices when it come to the proper course of action. In general most will default to the oldest and most experienced of the group but this can also be issue because they are likely completely disconnected from their original humanity.

The Guardians are part superhero living in the shadows, part adventurers and part brotherhood of demigods. They must juggle between the defense of their home Realm, which is always ten seconds away from unraveling (as most Realms in the Godbound universe are) and spontaneously turning people into monsters or having Uncreated pop in the middle of a stadium and their excursions through the Uncreated Night to other Realms to confront the threats directly and harvest enough of the rare and exotic materials needed for them and their realm to survive. In between this they must deal with rogue Gods, deep seated rivalries, their own agendas and of course their declining humanity.

Losing Humanity

I haven't written down the mechanics concretely yet, but Guardians essentially acquire the reverse of binding a Word when they come back from the dead. These are passive effects which negatively impact them as reality slowly unravel around them or their souls erode. For example, they might become so cold/fearsome that no mortal can stand their presence or animals might reject them constantly. The lesser effects will drain away their emotions, their (mundane) senses and bits and pieces of their humanity. Some might become constantly fused to their armor, making it impossible for them interact with ordinary people in their native Realm.


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