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Monday, 27 April 2020

Tellus: More Classes from Mage Hand's Press?

Magic Swordsman class from
Bravely Default.
It's been a while since the last Tellus post. The main reason why I haven't worked on Tellus a whole lot is that I consider most of the setting to be 'complete', in so much as having nailed down all the key elements which define the world overall. Everything else would depend on the details of the campaign I'd run with it. All the key information is laid out and easy to digest both for the player and Game Master. That said...

I've got some mixed feelings about 'option bloat'. On one hand I'm all too aware of the damage it has caused to D&D over the years and created this obsession with number crunching and 'builds'. On the other hand, if judiciously used, options can certainly help define a setting a bit more. Given that it is very likely Tellus will be ran with a group that's more focused on a 'modern' mindset I have taken time to gather my thoughts on some Third Party material, namely the entirely new classes by Mage Hand's Press, whose archetypes I frequently link to.

One thing to keep in mind with Tellus is that nothing beyond the core material exist unless I deliberately use it. This is a rule I myself must respect, self imposed as it may be. Things only exist as an option to add to the setting if desired, rather than something which is retconned and crow barred in.

Binder

Should the Binder class exist then the existence of Vestiges is tied to Tellus' Afterworld as it is the domain where ancient and bygone eras of the world (or even, maybe, universe?) exist in a tangible form which is halfway between reality and a living dream. Binder would be a variant of the Warlock, albeit one which is much more rare and ill understood.

Channeler

Intended as a, and I quote, a 'Gish class' (an antiquated term for the spellblade or eldritch knight archetype, taken from the Gith of D&D) the Channeler is a base class whose entire shtick is being a hybrid between a martial and spellcasting class rather than having to rely on archetypes/subclasses or multiclassing. Given a solid point has long been made to make the human and non-human races stand out more from each others on Tellus, the Channeler makes for a good replacement to any archetype which add spellcasting to an otherwise non-spellcasting class. In a way, this could make it closer to the Elf racial class of old, where 'being an elf' was enough to define a character. Given the element focus and martial bent of this class, its quite clear: the Dragon Clans would be well suited to primarily have Channelers. The only issue here is that the class is Intelligence, not Charisma-based.

Warden

Now there's a class which seems tailor made for one of Tellus' main races, the Gigas. Originally conceived during the maligned Fourth Edition, the Warden is a 'tank' class which draws upon the primal powers of nature in ways rather different than the more spellcasting-focused Druid. Here we see a class which is perfectly suited to them: it's strong, its tough and its nature-powered. In fact I'd go as far as to say that, should I go with some racial restrictions, the Warden would be well suited to replace the Fighter for the Gigas race as a whole.

Warmage

Magic, completely tuned to the crafts of war and murder. The Warmage class would be a rather new development in the current era of Tellus, born of the intense magical research for the purpose of warfare which is so common in the Sheradilan Empire. The rare few individuals with magical talent which are found among each generation would be taken (often against their will if necessary) and molded into living weapons.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Warhammer 40 000 Roleplay: Random Tech Adept

Something a bit new and different here, some good old fashioned random tables which can help slightly lighten the load on a Game Master. In this case, its some Warhammer 40 000 tables. While I personally would run it as a modified Stars Without Numbers or just 1st edition Dark Heresy, these are not rule set-specific.

Random Tech Adept

From Dark Heresy 2nd Edition.
Tech Adepts is an often used term to refer to the lower rank-and-file Tech Priests. While they rank above the mindless servitors, these are lower ranked members, usually either a younger initiate or some low ambition 'pencil pusher'. These are the more common individuals which Imperial citizen could come across, maintaining and repairing the various technological devices a world commonly use, from ground vehicles like cars and trucks to agri world farming equipment. They are initiated into the Machine Cult but are either young and early in their career or simply individuals lacking a particularly important rank. These are the maintenance workers, the Lexmechanics and Transmechanics. They are very likely to rank lower than even the Enginseers working alongside the Imperial Guard, who are at the very least expected to go into battles. Simply put, the Tech Adepts are rather ordinary individuals all things considered, compared to the much more inhuman higher ranked Magos. Across the Imperium are countless of these lower ranked Adepts, whose lives are as boring and (almost as) expendable as any other Imperial citizen.

Tech Adept Names
d10
Male
Female
Surname
1
Achaikos
Gentiana
Bringas
2
Nojus
Pranvera
Cydonis
3
Qemal
Cloelia
Xiphilinos
4
Kristupas
Alvilde
Cythor
5
Hyginos
Gintare
Julias
6
Agrippa
Diokles
7
Shani
Todor
8
Ravid
Solveig
9
Mira
Vitora
10
Zorah
Theodar


d6
Physique
1
Skinny: Underneath its robe, the Tech Adept is quite skinny and bony, which can make his or her augmentics look a tad oversized, making their appearance even more awkward.
2
Flabby: Since the Tech Adept retains most of its flesh, he or she still eats solid human food and clearly has a habit of eating too much or poorly, resulting in a layer of flab on their organic parts.
3
Squat: The Tech Adept is short, wide and stocky which may hint at a distant ancestor being part of a certain, oft-debated-extinct abhuman strain. Or maybe they are just naturally short and stocky.
4
Spindly: The Tech Adept is tall and thin and their augmentics add a few more inches to their limbs and maybe even neck, making them appear even taller. They frequently hunch over.
5
Hunchbacked: Poor quality and bulky Potentia Coils, a form of power unit implanted in techpriest, have twisted the back of this Tech Adept, making him or her appear to have a bit of a hunched back.
6
Lopsided: One or more limb and connected parts has more augmentics than the others, making the Tech Adept look ever so slightly lopsided, especially as they have to walk with one side of their body being heavier than the other.


d6
Personality
1
Impatient and Annoyed: This Tech Adept has a rather short temper and does not like to spend time explaining things or having his or her time wasted.
2
Mild and Boring: This Tech Adept is a fairly even individual with little expression nor any strong like or dislike. They are boringly average which could explain their low rank.
3
Eager and Willing: This Tech Adept is always looking for an excuse to flex their ‘muscles’ and showcase their tech expertise, often to their own detriment.
4
Pious Incompetent: A raving zealot of the Machine Cult, only held back from a position of power to preach by their rather meager talents.
5
Cold and Callous: As one would expect of a member of the Machine Cult, this individual is not prone to emotion. They are also quite the uncaring asshole.
6
Iconoclast: The low rank of this individual is explained not by a lack of skill but simply flaunting a bit of a disregard for tradition and authority. They lack the resource and malice to be an heretic, however.


d6
Noteworthy Augmentation
1
Augmented Skull: The head of the Tech Adept showcases many augmentations, some of good quality others not so much. Most of their skull has been replaced or plated with metal and is noticeably enlarged and swollen with cables.
2
Skull Face: Most of the face of this Tech Adept is gone, replaced by a somewhat skull-like set of augments with whatever flesh left behind being saggy and pale. They are quite eerie and scary-looking.
3
Secondary Limbs: The Tech Adept has a second pair of crude limbs jutting out from somewhere in their torso. They are useless beyond simple manipulation and interface,which is their primary purpose.
4
Creeping Electoos: Most of the flesh of the Tech Adept is covered in large, poor quality ‘electoos’; metallic skin graft which looks like tatoos at a glance. They bulge out from the flesh.
5
Bulky Respirator: Most Tech Priests are outfitted with some built-in respirator but this one has a particularly large and bulky unit protruding from their face, neck and throat, with valves and tubes.
6
Voice Box: The neck and upper ribcage of the Tech Adept has been replaced with cybernetics and their voice is synthesized, with an annoying and grating tone.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Godbound: A Gaggle Of Giants

Art from the infamous Warhammer:
Age of Sigmar
Giants are a concept synonymous with mythology as a whole. It's hard to say exactly why without going into deeper psychological things, but the short version is: a big person is impressive and also really scary. The imagery of giants is one which invoke both awe and fear. It is simple, potent and primal. It combine the fear of a large animal and an angry, hostile person and then blows it out of proportion to mythical height. Indeed, giants of myth can range from 'slightly bigger' to towering cosmic beings of near infinite size.

The Giants of the Godbound universe are not necessarily a related phenomena and have many possible origins. The only thing keeping them loosely tied together would be some stats and mechanics. I've previously statted simple Giants for some quick and loose Scion conversion here so this could be considered a bit of a remake and expansion of these ideas. Possible origin for Giant-like beings in Arcem could include:

  • The Necro-Titans of Ancalia, horrible gestalt undead husks which have grown to truly massive size. In fact, these serve as a mechanical basis for this post just as much as the Godbound Scion notes. The undead giants are more often than not massive in size through their incorporation and assimilate of other corpses and husks.
  • Giants born of lost transhumanist lineages, either related to the Akeh people of Ancalia or a completely unrelated transhuman experiment from another Realm which simply wandered into Arcem through the night roads. An entire civilization could have chosen to remake entire arcopolis into a singular entity which would stride into battle next to its equally massive Made God. Each a city or even a nation, sharing one flesh and one mind.
  • Other Giants could be the result of a unholy hunger,as Giants are often associated with eating. Perhaps one or more person feasted on the decaying techno-flesh of a Made God and was infused with a portion of its power, growing in stature and hunger. These beings would be similar to a gigantic Parasite God but rather than being limited in their range of movement they are cursed with an unending hunger. When they encounter a being with sufficient power (read: HD) they become compelled to eat it. This become even more overwhelming when meeting a being bound to a Word.
  • It is not implausible that massive Uncreated could one day emerge from the Uncreated Night as the Night Roads and other 'wounds' in the world grow larger and more potent. These Uncreated Titans would be akin to a massive 'black hole', sucking up all divine energy and and the essence of creation itself around them, never to be seen again past the event horizon. These creatures would possess truly uncanny abilities to negate divine powers.

Lesser and Greater Giants

The classification of Giants (or even 'Titans', if one wish to use such a term for larger and divinely-potent specimen) into 'Lesser' and 'Greater' is more one of divine power than simple size. As outlined here for the Scion conversion, there are Giants listed in terms of size and potency, with the Greater Giant of that list being a mere 14 HD. Instead, what define a Greater Giant is as follow:
  • A Greater Giant is Bound to the Words of Might and Endurance. However it can only use this Word's miracles in ways which are expressions of its massive and powerful frame. It can't use its Word to create miracles or changes which are external. Finally, as it is bound to these Words it can dispel their effects, usually by simply out powering any wannabe Godling in terms of raw physical power.
  • A Greater Giant can destroy half its HD worth of Mobs per turn as it simply swat them aside, crush them or devour them whole with its many limbs and heads. Worthy Foes/important NPC who may be part of that mob get a Saving Throw to avoid such a fate.
  • Greater Giants possess an invincible defense against all mental influences, mind-reading and all mundane weapons. In addition they permanently take 2 points less of damage, to a minimum of 0. Only macro-scale weaponry, such as massive guns, artificer weapons or a Godwalker ignore this effect. At the GM discretion, a weapon or artifact specifically created to slay Giants could ignore this effect too.
For ease of read, an updated stat block for Giants is posted here.

Giant Type
HD
AC
Atk
Dmg
Mov
ML
Effort
Lesser Giant
6
7
+6 x2
1d10
20’
11
3
Average Giant
10
8
+10 x2
1d12
20’
11
4
Large Giant
14
9
+10 x2
2d6
30’
11
5
Titan
18
10
+10 x3
2d8
40’
12
7

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Grimdark Army Concept: Obliterator Cult

Art by Filip Čekić.
Obliterators are a monstrous variation of Chaos Space Marines: former Techmarines and/or Terminators who have become infected and corrupted by the terrifying and bizarre 'Obliterator Virus' which slowly grant them the ability to fuse with machinery and reshape their techno-organic flesh to replicate whatever they absorbed. And yet, a less known fact is that they are not the only type of Obliterators. Certainly the most infamous and advanced form of the mutation but as it turns out, the virus can infect more than Space Marines.

While the virus can only slowly spread in the material world, the Inquisition is starting to fear that it may be spreading across Imperial worlds and creating small pockets of what are termed 'Obliterator Cults' as ordinary individuals become carrier for the disease and are slowly overtaken by it. But, surely, the average Imperial citizen is a far cry from a monstrous techno-organic Terminator bristling with heavy weapons, right? Well, as it turns out there's a lot of machinery one can come into contact on your average, developed Imperial World. What if such a cult did form in secret, its members hiding in the darkness and collecting all the scrap of useful machinery and weapons they can: first lasguns, autopistol and armor to add to their flesh, then vox transmitters, auspex and eventually industrial equipment. In time as the cult grows bolder they would attack tech adepts and servitors, dragging them in dark tunnels to rip the precious machinery off their flesh.

Codex: Obliterator Cult?

Well, not quite. This is an idea on how I'd flesh out an Obliterator Cult army for use in the rather rule-light and easy to play Grimdark Future, which is a lot like a free bootleg wargame system which just so conveniently happen to have armies which just so happen to resemble those from a certain British company! Since Grimdark Future allows to merge armies more easily, this list will combine from two different army lists to create what could be a hypothetical form of an Obliterator cult harvesting resources and gadgets from an Imperial world to start their uprising.

The core of the army are the Soul Snatcher Cults, which are absolutely totally not Genestealer Cults. These guys are fairly human-like, are a cult and have access to heavy duty equipment including heavy weapons, military gear and mining gear. Perfect! However, Brutes aside this list just isn't quite monstrous enough. The Obliterator virus make the host stronger, bigger and heavier from all the flesh-metal their mutating body starts to pack on. The easy answer would be to combine this list with the Chaos Marines Havoc Brothers and, sure, that is valid but the idea is that this is an Obliterator Cult which has arisen from ordinary human and not chaos marines. As such this list is combined with Orc Marauders to add a few more monstrous techno-brutes!

Obliteration Initiates

Base Units: Minions, Support Minions, Neophytes, Minion Bikers, Minion Quadbike
Strogg concept art.
At 5+/5+ with fairly basic weapons, these guys represent the bulk of the Obliterator cult. They are physically mostly still human, ranging from almost un-mutated to showing the initial stages of the mutation. The primary source of bitz for these models would be th Imperial Guard, Genestealer Cult and/or Necromunda range. They would appear to be mostly human, but with what would appear to be cybernetic enhancements crudely sticking out of them and their skin would have a somewhat reddish and/or grey tinge to it, either looking sickly or strangely raw and bloody, as a nod to the older Obliterator miniatures and their Dawn of War 1 3d model. Squad leaders and heavy weapon users would be partially merged with their weapons, with fingers and hands extending into techno-flesh melding into the gun. The bikers and other vehicles of the Genestealer cult around found at this 'level' of mutation. Vehicle crews are also assumed to be among those rank and files.

Obliteration Disciples

Base Units: Acolytes and Morphs
At this stage the individual is clearly more than a cybernetically augmented individual with some skin condition, as the virus has progressed enough to make the mutation of flesh and metal obvious. These models have 4+ quality and better access to close combat weapons. What would be Tyranid bio weapons are instead grotesque and swollen limbs, thick with cable-muscles and strong with metal bones. Horrid, H.R. Giger-esque tubing has started to form and these guys, equipped with the cutters, chainsaws and drills have fused with their weapons. Bitz could be taken from servitors and even arco-flagellant however at this stage the part where the flesh and machine meld would be smoothed out with greenstuff and have cables, tubes and wires going in and out, melding with the machinery in some chaotic ways.

Obliteration Brutes

Base Units: Brute Champion, Mutant Brutes, Orc Mob and Boss Mob
Those who have made it to this level have truly grown beyond their human limitations. Flesh has swollen with thick cords of plastic and metal fused with flesh at the cellular level, while bones have lengthened and thickened absurdly. Some might have taken a different path, however, simply gathering machinery to replace their flesh, becoming nothing more than a fetal mass of flesh and organs in a large body made of scrap and demonically-tainted flesh tendrils. What make this category clearly defined is that these individuals have grown larger, more powerful and noticeably heavier.
Art by Ricardo Robles.
  • Mutant Brutes and Brute Champions are particularly large and deformed individuals which have lost much of their sanity and humanity in the process, having become oversized piles of mutant flesh fused with whatever scrap of technology they could acquire. These creatures lumber forward, waving massive flesh-metal fists, amalgamation of razors and chainsaws or even the stubby end of what used to be guns.
  • Orc Mobs are used to represent those who have significantly bulked out but have otherwise retained their sanity. While somewhat clumsy shooters they have access to a variety of crude weapons and relish in close quarter combat. Think of them as a more human-sized version of the Mutilators. Model-wise they would be as mutated as anything else on this 'tier' but primarily use Arco Flagellant models with added thick layers of spiky bits and machinery bulking out their bodies and with one gun for an arm. These can also be equipped with better armor to increase their saves.
  • Boss Mobs are the ultimate evolution of these still-sentient brutes, having grown to almost the size of a Space Marine (if not larger!). Since Boss Mobs can take weapon attachments (read: combi-weapons) this make perfect sense, as it represent the Obliterator fully developing its powers, gaining the ability to regrow multiple weapons out of their flesh at will. Not to the same extent as a true Chaos Space Marine Obliterator but still enough to have flamethrowers and flesh-rockets.

Cult Leaders

More Strogg art.
The way I see it, the leadership of an Obliteration Cult is purely based on whoever is most 'blessed' by the virus, meaning who has managed to retain most of their sanity while also having grown the most powerful. Lower rank officers and demagogue do exist, presumably selected out of the ranks for their leadership skills and military knowledge.
  • Commanders, Alpha Bikers, Mad Scientist and Prime Neophytes are all taken from the lower stratum of the mutated masses. These may not be the most advanced of the Obliterators but they stand apart from the cult as first-among-mostly-equals. Their raw skill supersede any advanced blessing of Chaos.
  • Meanwhile the Warlord represent the most advanced form of Obliteratorhood: a massive pile of daemonically-infused techno-flesh bristling with weapons. His strength is on par with that of an Ork or Space Marine and he easily tower over them. His form could be mostly symmetrical and humanoid (if he's managed to retain that shape) or he could have dozen of techno-arms tipped with claws, sensors and maybe even spare heads. Others might have fused with a vehicle (if the 'Bike' upgrade is chosen). No matter the option chosen, he is a nightmare to behold. While the Warlord could be upgraded with heavy armor to reach a staggering 2+ armor save part of me think it doesn't quite fit this list.