Thursday, November 30, 2017

Necro-Psionic Technology: The Legacy of the Dead Art

Necro-Psionic Technology

The Ranathim mastered the Dead Art and used it and its synthetic flesh to craft unliving biological machines that fed off of psionic energy to empower their uses. This technology gave them the edge they needed to forge their empire, but also had drawbacks, both in slowly twisting and corrupting their users, and in the intense specialization and skill needed to train necrocrafters. Thus, after the Ranathim Empire fell, most of its Necro-Psionic technology fell with it. Even so, some practitioners of the Dead Art still exist in the Galaxy, and many Ranathim relics still use this technology, or the living warmachines created by the Ranathim Empire still roam the decaying remnants of their great empire.

In essence, Necro-Psionic technology is bio-tech with a highly specific focus (synthetic flesh or dead flesh), and shaped with a specific technique (Necrokinesis). In a sense, it’s similar to “Variant Biotech” from BT 30, except that we use psionics instead of magic, and the Dead Art has a very distinc thematic flavor. Anything, from plague engineering to human engineering to bio-tech gadgets and bio-mods can be made using synthetic flesh or dead flesh and necrokinesis. The following represents a catalog of “common” technology as inspiration.

Necro-Psi Gadgets and Implants

Necro-Psi gadgets can function like Biogadgets (BT 95). The most common “pwer-sources” are Bio-Convertor, Nutrient Bath (either by keeping it stored in a flesh vat, or soaking it in blood), or it is “vampiric,” typically demanding HP or FP per use, per hour or per day. Vampiric devices are x1 cost.

Flesh Armor (Ferthe Dapolor)

One of the more complex Necro-Psionic creations, this uses carefully manipulated synthetic flesh that’s been hardened into sturdy, organic armor (as strong as nanocomposite, though more brittle), and powered by internal sinews that draw their strength from the life force of the wearer, allowing him to be stronger and faster. The result appears to be an imposing suite crafted of bony, organic armor covered in tarry, black or bony, white plates.

Statistics. This armor provides the wearer with Super-Jump 1, +2 Basic Move, +10 striking and lifting ST, 100 Semi-Ablative DR on the torso and head, and 75 Semi-Ablative DR elsewhere; it heals its semi-ablative armor naturally, at 1/10th of its armor once per day provided it has access to life force or a nutrient bath. It must be bathed once a week in a mixture of synthetic flesh or it starts to suffer (treat this as maintenance), and it draws upon the life force of its wearer, draining on HP per day of use. It weighs 50 lbs and costs $50,000.

Variants of Flesh Armor exist. Some have helmets that offer a visual depiction of the Detect Life, and others have claws, equivalent to long talons with armor divisor 3, or a large, heavy set of horns (that usually exaggerate the wearer’s horns) that act as strikers and offer additional skull DR.

Dead Arm (Radin Tarvasis)

Synthetic flesh can be used to replace living flesh, and thus rather than use cybernetics, one could replace his limbs with necro-tech limbs. For additional ideas to those below, see Pyramid #3/1 “Necromantic Tools” starting on page 13. All such arms have the Psionic disadvantage and are subject to anti-psi powers or to anti-psi devices. Anything that suppresses a power can be used to switch off a necro-tech limb. This applies as a -10% Psionic limitation rather than a -20% cybernetic limitation, and applies a -70% mitigator, rather than a -80% mitigator. They can still apply corruption, in this case from grafting unholy, unliving, psionically-empowered flesh to your body, rather than “cyberpsychosis.” If using the Cybernetics and Corruption rules, apply the corruption of one procedural level higher (With radical inflicting 6dx10 corruption!). Additional ideas include Dead Legs, Dead Eyes (typically with infravision and glowing red) or a dead jaw (extensible, with savage, black fangs with an armor divisor of 3).

Synthetic flesh replacements have largely fallen out of favor in the modern galaxy, thanks to the scarcity of those with the Dead Art (most people don’t even know they exist), but in the heart of the Dark Arm of the galaxy, one can still find people who use them.

A classic Radin Tarvasis is pallid and leathery, with grotesque black veings and savage, tarry black claws jutting from the fingers. The arm is exceedingly obvious and unnatural to those who see it.

Statistics: Arm ST +2 (One Arm, Psionic -10%) [6]; Claws (Talons; Armor Divisor 3) [13]; DR 10 (One Arm, Tough Skin -80%) [2], Injury Tolerance (Unliving, One Arm -40%) [12], One Arm (Mitigator, Psionic -70%) [-6], Pestilent Arm [1], Unnatural Features 2 [-2]. 26 points. $12,000.

Availability: Minor Procedure; $12,000.

A classic Radin Tarvasis is pallid and leathery, with grotesque black veings and savage, tarry black claws jutting from the fingers. The arm is exceedingly obvious and unnatural to those who see it.

Dead Heart (Gitra Tarvasis)

The Dead Art holds at its heart one of the great secrets of immortality in the old Ranathim Empire, though its price was steep indeed. A heart crafted of synthetic flesh and then permanently animated with necro-kinesis could potentially “beat” forever. Moreover, it spread its influence through the bearers body, giving him distinct black veins and black blood. While the bearer wasn’t unliving, he became nigh immortal, no longer aging and very difficult to kill. However, instead of aging, the dead heart would slowly corrupt the user, or rapidly if it preserved the bearers life after a serious beating. Every point of damage the character takes past -1xHP afflicts an equal amount of corruption. The character also gains 1d6 corruption every year he ages, though this is noted only for narrative effect (player characters should never take this latter form of corruption), to note that ancient beings with dead hearts are likely monstrous and insane.

If the heart is destroyed, however, it can no longer preserve the character. Attacks to the heart will rapidly kill the target (inflicting x4 damage) and his psionic immortality will not last.

Statistics: Terminally Ill (Up to One Month, Mitigator, Psionic -70%) [-30], Unkillable 1 (Corrupt -20%, Achilles Heel: Attacks to the Heart -10%) [35]; Unnatural Features (Black blood, black veins) 2 [-2], Vulnerable (Heart, x4) [-20]. -7 points.

Availability: Minor Procedure; $20,000.

Black Blood (Dehan Tarvasis)

Synthetic flesh can be engineered to act as a sort of bio-drug, healing or augmenting some aspect of a character’s performance. The easiest application is healing the target. A dark, tarry substance, called “Black Blood” because of its similar appearance to the blood of the Gaunts or those who bear a Dead Heart can seek out wounded points and “step in,” acting as replacement cells and stitching a wound together. A single injection gives the character Regeneration (Fast) for the next hour, but each point of injury healed this way inflicts 1 point of Corruption. $1000 per dose; LC 2.

Necro-Psi Monsters

The Dead Art can be used to bioengineer corpses with specific properties, either working from existing corpses or creating something wholecloth from synthetic flesh, and then bringing it to life. Many such monstrosities simply rampage in a blind frenzy, but the greatest are docile for their masters, and ruthless in disposing of their enemies.

The limits of a Necro-Psi’s ability to create one of these monsters comes from how much Necrocraft they have mastered. The smallest creations, little larger than insects, can be crafted by apprentices, but the greatest monstrosities, weighing tons, require masters of the craft, or prodigious use of Extra Effort, exhausting the Necro-Psion.

Styxian Scarab

Alternate Name: Viktus Vasulor

Among the simplest creatures to return to life are small insects, or palm-sized pieces of synthetic flesh. The so-called Styxian Scarab is one such Necro-Psionic creation. It appears as a white beetle with bony,thick plates and particularly menacing mandibles. They have the ability to transmit what they see directly to their master using their Sense Senses skill; they use long-range modifiers (B241) and suffer a -1 if they cannot see their master; they automatically succeed and do not need to roll, provided they have a modified skill of at least 3. They may also receive their masters commands in the same way, making them an extension of their master’s will.

Their real horror is when deployed en masse. A single yard-sized swarm can strip the flesh from the bones of a man in less than 10 seconds. Their powerful jaws can even shred metal, albeit slowly, so even fully sealed armor only holds them at bay for a time. Their tough carapaces and their unliving nature make them extraordinary difficult to deal with. The stats below represent a swarm.

Styxian Scarabs aren’t “for sale,” but a necro-psionic character may “purchase” a Styxian scarab swarm as signature gear for 1 point ($25,000).

ST: 4

HP: 20

Speed: 5

DX: 10

Will: 10

Move: 2

IQ: 4

Per: 11

HT: 10


SM: +0

Dodge: NA

Parry: NA

DR: 0

Skills: Telespeak 5, Send Senses-8

Traits: Frightens Animals; Mindlink (Master), Pestilent; Reprogrammable Duty, Psi-Susceptibility -5, Telerecieve (Shallow) 1, Telesend 5; Swarm

Fright Check: -0

Bite (NA): 1d(3) corr; only sealed armor protects

Ranathim Bale Hound

Alternate Name: Gerluk Vaika

Jackal by WhiteFoxClub
The pointy-eared, broad-shouldered Gerluk is a common companion to many Ranathim; with their innate psionic powers, they bond well with their masters, and prove to be exceptional hunters. Unsurprisingly, the Ranathim who practice to Dead Art feel the same way about the capabilities of the Gerluk as a hunter and often steal the corpses of these large, tiger-sized hounds to forge the Gerluk Vaika, the Bale Hound.

A Bale Hound appears as a native Gerluk, but with a pale, hairless hide and with spikes and plates of tarry, black “bone” jutting from its white flesh. The plates fail to cover it completely, and they only protect the hound on a 4+ (-2 to any attack to avoid the plates outright). It has long, black fangs and a mouth that drips with black bile, and similarly tainted claws. Its teeth and claws can both infect a target with whatever disease the unliving hound carries, and all Ranathim Bale Hounds have the uncanny psionic ability to detect disease and to track by disease. If someone is infected, they can detect it, and where they are, and then narrow in on finding them. Thus, a bale hound’s master usually commands a pack to attack enough to scratch or bite their prey, and then calls them off. If he ever wishes to find his target again, he can usually do so, if whatever disease the hounds carry hasn’t killed them off by then.

ST: 20

HP: 40

Speed: 8

DX: 12

Will: 10

Move: 12

IQ: 5

Per: 13

HT: 12


SM: +1

Dodge: 11

Parry: 9

DR: 40 (on roll of 4+)

Skills: Detect Disease-12

Traits: Born Biter (+1 SM); Bright (Glowing Eyes; -2 to Stealth if eyes visible); Carrier; Combat Reflexes; Detect Disease; DR 40 (Bone plates; partial, 4+, or -2 to avoid); Discriminatory Smell; Frightens Animals; Hard to Kill +3; High Pain Threshold; Infravision; Injury Tolerance (Unliving); Penetrating Voice; Pestilent; Psi-Susceptibility -5; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 1 (Cast-Iron Stomach -50%); Reprogrammable Duty; Resistant to Metabolic Hazards +8; Sharp Claws; Sharp Teeth (Fangs); Silent 1; Spines (Long); Unfazeable; Wild Animal.

Fright Check: -1

Bite (12): 2d(3) imp; Reach C; -3 to resist disease/infection.

Claw (12): 2d(3) cut; Reach 1; -3 to resist disease/infection.

Spines (8): 1d imp; Reach C; -3 to resist disease/infection. Free attack in close combat!

Styxian Death Wurm

Alternate Name: Devourer, Tarvatemkor

The Death Wurm is slightly misnamed and is better termed a “Devourer,” though even that doesn’t quite capture it’s true horror. The Necrocrafters of the Ranathim Empire crafted these not during the great war with the Monolith, but after. The purpose of the Styxian Death Wurm is not to slay the enemy, but to terrorize others into submission and to capture prisoners.

The Styxian Death Worm appears as a giant, thick, pallid worm with its “face” ringed with great “tusks” and burning red “eyes.” It has a long, tendril-like tongue, and four tendrils ringing its body. In battle, it either lies in wait, or it erupts out of the ground beneath its prey’s feet. It uses its tendrils to rapidly grapple its prey and then slowly draws it, still struggling and alive, into its waiting maw and then down into its body where it keeps it. The Death Wurm eats only dead flesh, but once its prey has been devoured (it is large enough to contain a single human, or two if it crushes them close together), it can squeeze them to death, or it can use its psychic vampirism to slowly drain the life from them. More commonly, though, it tunnels away once more and brings the still-living prey back to its master. The most common use of the Death Wurm was to capture fleeing prisoners or, more commonly, to recapture escaped slaves.

After the fall of the Ranathim Empire, the Death Wurm should have fallen away, but its construction facilities was one of the few to remain active, and they proliferated across the dead world of Styx, hence their name. The slaver empire also found them particularly useful, and so keeps some around to terrorize slaves, or for “gladiatorial matches.”

ST: 20

HP: 40

Speed: 5

DX: 12

Will: 9

Move: 6

IQ: 2

Per: 9

HT: 12


SM: +2

Dodge: 5

Parry: NA

DR: 40/20

Skills: Steal Life-12, Stealth-12, Tracking-12

Traits: 360 Degree Vision; Bright (Glowing Eyes; -2 to Stealth if eyes visible); Constriction Attack (Engulfing); Damage Resistance (Tough Skin) 20, Damage Resistance (Crushing Only) 20, Discriminatory Smell, Extra Arms (5 total, Long, Flexible); Frightens Animals; High Pain Threshold, Infravision, Injury Tolerance (Unliving), Payload 20, Penetrating Voice, Psi-Susceptibility -5, Reduced Consumption 1 (Cast-Iron Stomach -50%), Reprogrammable Duty, Resistant to Metabolic Hazards +8, Sensitive Touch, Silent 1, Striker (Limited Arc, Forward), Steal Life 1, Tunneling (Move 6), Unfazeable, Vermiform, Wild Animal

Fright Check: -2

Tusk Strike (12): 2d(3), Reach 1

Grapple (15): Each tentacle after the first adds +2 to hit and control. Reach 2.

Devour (20): After successful grapple, attempt to pin target (+3 if more tendrils free than target has hands, +3 per SM difference). Success means target is devoured. Death Wurm may target is pinned and the Death Wurm may, as a free action, roll ST (20) vs ST or HT to inflict 1 crushing damage per margin of victory.

The Styxian Dragon

Alternate Name: Belwale Nuthija, Lafthe Makte

The original dragons of Styxia are no more. With the death of the Ranathim homeworld, the great and majestic beasts of that world are no more. All that remains are their pale shadow, the tattered plague serpents enslaved by the flesh crafting of the Dead Art.

The Styxian Dragon resemble their once majestic counterparts, but thinner, with a starved look. They have the white underbelly of a worm, and their scales have bleached like bones in the sun, while their mouths and claws drip with black, tarry bile, and their eyes burn a fierce red. A Styxian Dragon is the size of a tank and phenomenally lethal with its claws and fangs, even its tail, able to crush a man to dust with a smash of its tail, or bissect a man with a lash of its claws: even the heavy armor of an Imperial soldier will fail before the talons of a Styxian dragon. They can make two attacks per turn, using different body parts.

But a Styxian Dragon’s true terror is not its brute power; indeed, an actual tank is typically more dangerous. Instead, a Styxian Dragon relies on its innate psychic vampirism and its miasma of disease. Those who get too near it find themselves afflicted with an illness; the precise nature of the disease varies from dragon to dragon, but they tend to be minor, with mild symptoms other than obvious physical changes such as the skin growing clammy and the eyes red and irritated. The real danger posed by the Styxian Dragon is not the disease it carries with it, but what it can do with the disease. All Styxian Dragons can sense disease, which lets them track anyone who has caught any plague, but especially their own. They can further use plague as a conduit for their natural psychic vampirism, allowing them to drain targets they can’t even see of life, even though behind cover or buried under the armor of a tank.

Finally, the Styxian Dragon is nigh unkillable. They can take a staggering amount of punishment, and only complete bodily destruction will actually destroy them. They will not die unless they are reduced down to -10xHP; given their DR, their 30 HP and their injury tolerance, this can require a prodigious amount of damage.

ST: 150

HP: 30

Speed: 5

DX: 9

Will: 12

Move: 10

IQ: 9

Per: 12

HT: 12


SM: +5

Dodge: 8

Parry: 10

DR: 100/60

Skills: Detect Disease-12, Steal Life-15, No Contact-15

Traits: Born Biter (+1 SM); Bright (Glowing Eyes; -2 to Stealth if eyes visible); Carrier; Claws (Talons), Combat Reflexes; Detect Disease (Lock-On); Disease Miasma; DR 40 (Bone plates; partial, 4+, or -2 to avoid), DR 60 (Tough Skin); Extra Attack; Frightens Animals; High Pain Threshold; Infravision; Injury Tolerance (Unliving); Penetrating Voice; Pestilent; Plague Vampire; Psi-Susceptibility -5; Quadruped; Reduced Consumption 1 (Cast-Iron Stomach -50%); Reprogrammable Duty; Resistant to Metabolic Hazards +8; Steal Life 4, Striker (Tail, Crushing), Teeth (Fangs); Unfazeable; Unkillable 1; Wild Animal.

Fright Check: -3

Bite (12): 5dx2 (3) imp; -3 to resist disease/infection.

Claw (12): 5dx3 (3) cut; -3 to resist disease/infection.

Tail Smash (12): 5dx4 cr.

Miasma (NA): Anyone who gets within 10 yards of a Styxian dragon must roll HT-2 or catch “Styxian Plague.” Characters need to only roll to resist the miasma once per day (this limitation only applies to the miasma itself, not to those struck by fang or claw or who choose to eat the flesh of a Styxian dragon). The miasma acts like a gas, and so the dimensions of the miasma change based on the wind, and the dragon can “breath” his miasma upon the targets. It typically has a very bad smell.

Notes: Plague Vampire applies a -2 to anyone attempting to resist the character’s Psyshic Vampirism powers if they’re afflicted with a specific sickness (in this case, the disease that the Styxian Dragon carries). The disease inflicted by their claws and bite is identical to their miasma, but apply the additional -3 to resist. “Styxian Plague” has a 7 daily cycles; at each cycle, the target must roll HT-2 or suffer 1 point of fatigue damage, 1d6 corruption, and minor irritations (itchy eyes, sniffles, etc) for the remainder of the day (The GM can apply an additional -1 to all rolls for one scene in a day to represent an “attack of the Styxian plague.”). Styxian plague is mildly contagious. Anyone exposed to the Styxian Dragon’s miasma or blood, or who eats its flesh or are struck by their claws or fangs must roll HT-2 to resist (-5 if eating its flesh or wounded by its claws or fangs).

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