Monday, March 11, 2019

Psi-Wars Alien Races: the Gaunt

Other names: Ghouls, Stiffs, Tarvathim, the Vat-Born
Homeworld: Tarvagant (the Umbral Rim)
Other worlds: The Gaunt can be found almost everywhere in the Umbral Rim and wherever aliens can be found in the Galactic Core, but tend to be especially common in Moros, Samsara and Grist.

When the Ranathim first faced the great armies of the Eldoth, they despaired, for they would never be able to gather an army great enough to defeat them, until one of their great science-mystics stole the secret of Thanatokinesis from the Eldoth and created the Dead Art. Using her newly crafted synthetic flesh, the Ranathim were able to forge numerous monstrosities to hurl against the armies of the Eldoth and, eventually, triumph.

One of these monstrous warmachines were the Gaunt, or “Tarvathim” in the Lithian language. This race served as the disposable footsoldiers and servants of the Ranathim. The have a pallid, pasty appearance from their unliving “synthetic flesh,” though older gaunts have a leathery appearance as exposure to various suns toughens the upper layer of their synthetic flesh. They have milky eyes, gaping nostril slits, and their lipless faces expose sharp, jagged, black teeth; similarly black claws extend from their hands at feet. The Gaunts are born via a mass-production process called “Flesh Vats,” and inconsistencies in the creation process leaves numerous discolorations, boils and deformities upon the Gaunt, which do little to inhibit their functionality, but make them a most unpleasant race to look upon.

The Gaunt have fantastic strength and durability, being functionally living “machines.” They can shrug off blows that would kill a human, and their synthetic metabolism makes them virtually immune to metabolic hazards like disease, poison, even vacuum. They do not eat food, but instead, must consume more synthetic flesh or, barring that, the flesh of the dead (preferably the flesh of sapients, as their inherent necrokinetic nature responds better to that than to the flesh of animals, but that will do in a pinch). On the other hand, they lack the originality or ingenuity of natural races and they tend to be slightly clumsy or slow. Their synthetic metabolism works badly with most drugs, requiring them to have uniquely crafted serums for their metabolism. While most diseases find it difficult to harm a Gaunt, they can still infect a Gaunt, and many Gaunts act as unintentional carriers for insidious diseases. They may appear humanoid, but they are not: they cannot breed, they’re born from their vats “fully grown” and they die after a few decades: few Gaunts live more than 40 years. Finally, these were designed to be the servile minions of the Ranathim and, as such, are susceptible to psionic powers.

With the fall of the Ranathim Tyranny, most flesh industries collapsed, but the Gaunts did what they could to collect the last few flesh vats and use those to replace their numbers with old, run-down machinery. They’re a surprisingly common race, and their disgusting features can be found frequenting underworld cantinas or lurking in the bowels of some arcology where only the dead lurk. They tend to take on the culture of whatever civilization they live in, though some remember the old Ranathim ways and speak Lithian or practice the Divine masks (especially Navare, Zathare and, of course, the Dead Art).


Gaunt 20 points

Attributes: ST +4 [40]; DX -1 [-20]; IQ -1 [-20]; HT +2 [20]

Secondary Traits: HP +6 [12], Base Speed -0.5 [-10]

Advantages: Injury Tolerance (Unliving) [20], Hard to Kill +3 [6], High Pain Threshold [10], Less Sleep 2 [4], Night Vision 3 [3], Pestilent [1], Reduced Consumption 1 (Cast-Iron Stomach -50%) [1], Resistant to Metabolic Hazards +8 [15], Sharp Claws [5], Sharp Teeth [1]

Features: Affected by powers that affect corpses [0]; No Fatigue [0]; Short Lifespan 1 [0]; Sterile [0];

Disadvantages: Appearance (Ugly) [-8], Bad Smell [-10], Disturbing Voice [-10], Odious Personal Habit (Eats Corpses) [-10], Psi Susceptibility 5 [-15], Restricted Diet (Dead flesh of other sapients or “synthetic flesh,” Very Common) [-10], Unusual Biochemistry [-5]

Gaunt Traits

Injury Tolerance (Unliving): For the purposes of Injury Tolerance, treat all blasters (but not plasma weapons, flamers, lasers, etc) as piercing incendiary attacks. That is, the Gaunt halve all damage from blaster attacks.

Pestilent: Pestilent applies a -2 to HT rolls to resist infection from an attack by a Gaunt's teeth or claws. Psi-Wars uses a more action-oriented framework, so rather than worry about infection, if the Gaunt inflicts an injury with teeth or claws and the GM deems the environment to be the sort where infection is a danger (such as in a swamp) or the Gaunt carries a disease of some kind that the target needs to resist, apply a -2 to HT rolls to resist disease.

Psi-Susceptibility: Treat this as Magic Susceptibility (B143) only apply the bonus to skill and the penalty to resistance to all psi rolls.

Gaunt Names

The Gaunt have little culture of their own, though enclaves attempt to change that.  Instead, they draw their names from local cultures, usually just first names or nicknames, like "Old Ironsides," or "Fester."  Gaunt traditionalists will use the same names as the Ranathim.  Some Gaunt "Tribes" which sprang from the same flesh vats and work together to maintain them and their "brothers" might have a tribal name, which is usually appended, like a surname.

Mailanka's Musings on the Gaunt

The Gaunt are our space ghouls, the servants of the Ranathim.  They're here to give us an ugly, outcast race, and sort of a generic miserable wretch or monster.  The evil old space wizard might be, or employ, a Gaunt.  The weird thing scavenging in the crashed ship might be a Gaunt.  And, of course, these ugly buggers infest the trashiest cantinas or back-alleys where they pan-handle for coin and nibble at recently murdered victims.  The template itself is fairly straight-forward: socially very weak, but physically extremely durable!  They also allow players to interact with diseases in interesting ways, as they're largely immune, but can carry them.

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