Friday, October 2, 2009

A quick art preview of Coven Of Bast...

As promised, I'm going to preview some concepts and images from the upcoming Coven of Bast sourcebook. When all is said and done, the Coven of Bast splat will probably clock in at around 96 pages, and will go very, very deep into a specific faction of the Choicer's Covenant. The Bastians are an Egyptian-flavored, very militaristic Choicer sub-culture, and making them look different from the mainstream choicers but still recognizable enough you can tell they're from the same army is a difficult balancing act.

I've been playing around with darker colors, lots of brown, bloody red, burnished gold, and much less orange and yellow than in traditional Choicer designs. I've also decided that alot of the elite troopers of the faction can learn a feat- Bastian Metaform- that allows them to shapeshift into a jaguar-headed war form. If you ever played Werewolf: the Apocalypse, and know what a Crinos form is, you're halfway there.....

I'm getting alot more confident in my art, and at the same time, having a year of working and detailing the Otherverse has given me a better concept of how everything works and fits together. While I'm working on the Bastians my ideas of what the Chociers as a whole should look like are getting clarified.

Everything's going to be a bit tighter, better laid out, and more interesting than in the core book, which means that sooner or later I'm going to go back, and improve the Otherverse America core book. That'll probally wait until I have the money to comission more and better art, but it's something I want to do.

Over on the right is an image of a Bastian veneficia, a ritual executioner.... Here's an excerpt from the manuscript describing Neken, the Choicer's death row.....
Death Row Sacramento

Sacramento, CA is home to the single Choicer death row, (codenamed “Nekhen” after the original Egyptian city of the dead) and has been since the mid 2070s. This small facility is several miles outside Sacramento, deep in the reborn redwood groves planted after the treaty’s ratification. Per the treaty of Boston, any Choicer convicted of capital crimes has the right to have his or her sentence carried out by a Bastian veneficia (executioner) in a prescribed ritual manner rather than at a Fed-Gov death row.

Executions are usually performed via nano-toxins, but depending upon the condemned’s sect (and metahuman defenses, if any), ancient forms of execution, such as ritual decapitation, exsanguination, drowning or hanging may be used. Dreamborn Mau are often subtly pressured into becoming veneficias, because a common Bastian superstition holds that those executed by these Goddess-touched psions are reincarnated quickly and mercifully, so they may more quickly atone for misdeeds in this life in their next.

The Nekhen facility is not equipped for long term housing of prisoners, and is rarely staffed year round. Instead, a small custodial staff and a troupe of janitorial robots maintain the facility until it is needed. Specially appointed Bastian death-priests and guards travel to the facility only when a Choicer prisoner requests their services, which only happens once or twice every few years. Only the fact of the facility’s obscurity and miniscule cost has prevented the Woven Council from writing it off as a budget expense.

Prisoners usually remain at Nekhen for only a few days before their sentence is carried out. Cyber-enhanced and Powered guards are supplemented by known and trusted combat volunteers, though security at the facility is never as comprehensive as at a true Super-max.

Sanctioned Veneficia (General)
Bastians account for a large percentage of all Covenant hospice and terminal care workers, second only to priestesses of Grieving Demeter. Euthanasia is legal and accepted in Covenant territory, and while suicide is still seen as a mental disorder, voluntary martyrdom and ceremonial suicide are (very gradually) emerging as ritual practices among some sects. Unlike other Covenant citizens, critically injured Bastians usually choose euthanasia and retention of their essential humanity rather than full cyborgization.

The veneficia (poison witch) is a specially trained cleric and physician who assists both dying patients and their families. Part hospice worker, part nano-chemist, part funeral priestess, the veneficia is expected aid both in a painless death and in the soul’s rebirth. In recent years, and a handful of Bastian veneficia have aided Strega’s Path ritual martyrs in their sacrifice. By longstanding Covenant tradition, the executioners assigned to duty at “Nekhen” are all civilian veneficia, not law enforcement personnel.

While veneficia are well regarded in Covenant society, they are almost as despised as abortion providers are in Lifer society. Suicide is the one unbreakable Lifer taboo and to them, is the ultimate surrender. “Bowing Down”, either by suicide or by acquiescence to governmental authority are both seen as cowardice. Terminally ill Lifers often reject a veneficia’s services as much out of sheer stubbornness as fear of death or a last hope for some medical treatment.

Prerequisites: Anointed Cleric, Craft (chemistry) 4 ranks, Knowledge (behavioral sciences) 2 ranks, Treat Injury 2 ranks
Benefit: You are especially good at dealing emotionally with the dying and their survivors. You receive a +4 competence bonus on Diplomacy checks made concerning death and dying, or made against a patient with a terminal illness, a condemned prisioner, ritual sacrifice or the like. You are legally sanctioned to euthanize patients, at their request, or execute condemned prisoners.

Your knowledge of nano-chemistry allows you to tailor nanotoxins specifically for a specific creature, vastly increasing their toxicity at the same time reducing their onset time and making the death easier. If you have a blood sample from the intended target of a poison, you can tailor the toxins specifically to that character’s DNA. The save DC associated with the poison is increased by a number equal to your WIS modifier (minimum +1), and unconsciousness 1d4 hours is added to the initial effect. These additional effects do not apply if the toxin is used against anyone other than the intended target.

Now, if you can't think of some plot hooks after reading that, give your GM screen to a neighbor and pawn your dice bag. But if you're dreaming of Choicer versions of The Dirty Dozen/The Suicide Squad, black ops agents recruited from death row, missions to recapture deadly criminals and the like, well than, you're my kind of gamer.

Anyway, look to see more in the coming days,


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