Monday, March 31, 2014

Psi-Watch Updates and Release Information

Okay, Mark just put up The Familiars of Black Japan, and the backlog of content I've built up is trickling out. Closed itself should be up soon, but since that book is an order of magnitude bigger and more complex than Familiars of Black Japan, I can see why Mark chose to put the short, easy to upload book first.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a couple of new fantasy races with John Picot- I'll preview them in a day or two.

I'm also plugging ahead with my Psi-Watch revamp. So far, I've managed to revise most of the 'earth-bound' races of the setting in line with the Pathfinder RPG and the Ultimate Psionics rules. One I wanted to show you, though as a non-psionic race, it doesn't really showcase the Ultimate Psionics rules, are the Graverobbers. These guys were different enough from the D20 Modern "Gravediggers" from Psi-Watch Unlimited Edition I renamed them.

They're based on Bloodstrike, a fairly obscure Rob Liefeld comic with one of the most intriguing premises I've ever seen: America secretly reanimates dead soldiers and mutates them into unstoppable killing machines. It's a great concept, one that never was executed to its  full potential.

Anyway, my stab at the Gravediggers wasn't spot on, either. As a race, they were fairly flavorless. Take a look at the revised Graverobbers, who are radically re-designed from their earlier inspiration.

Medium Undead (Patriot)
            Project: Graverobber began in the late sixties, using the remains of American soldiers killed in Vietnam and Cambodia as ‘test-beds’ for cybernetics experimentation and surgical re-animation trials. Within a few months, Puzzle Ops medics were able to successfully ‘resurrect’ a human corpse as an unfeeling and lethally efficient undead super soldier.

            Remorseless, relentless and neuro-conditioned for obedience, Graverobbers emerge from their birth-coffins as ideal soldiers. Over time, Graverobbers build a new existences for themselves, but they are never able to recreate the person they were during their first life, no matter how much some Graverobbers try.

            Graverobbers are zombie-like animated corpses.
The process that reanimated them regenerated their damaged and decayed tissues somewhat, but a Graverobber can’t easily be mistaken for living human. The wounds that killed them are still visible on their bodies, and the Graverobber’s torso is marred by a distinctive Y-shaped autopsy scar. Graverobber skin is faintly jaundiced and waxy.

            Gunmetal steel cybernetics and prosthetics replace organs and limbs too badly for the surgeons to save. First-generation Graverobbers typically had their facial tissue scrapped away and replaced by featureless rubber masks and cybernetic optical systems, to farther dehumanize the resurrected soldiers, while later-gen Graverobbers are created with a more humanistic appearance.

Reproduction and Biology
            Graverobbers are created by a highly classified procedure that blends science and magic, which returns a fallen American soldier to life as something both more and less than human. The creatures have ‘life processes’ but their biology is beyond anything familiar to ordinary medicine.

            As an undead, created species, Gravediggers do not reproduce, though some Gravediggers retain the ability to enjoy sex. Others, too badly damaged by their deaths, lack even this emotional release.

Homelands and Culture
            While other superhuman enhancement programs are semi-public, and some of America’s Military Post-Humans are celebrity super-soldiers, Project: Gravedigger remains a completely black program. Reborn Graverobbers have their memories scrubbed, and are prohibited contact with the family and friends from their first lives. Puzzle Ops has used lethal force to prevent disclosure of Project: Graverobber several times over the years, and the agency considers        
As Soldiers
            Puzzle Ops maintains a several companies worth of Gravedigger soldiers in deep cryo-stasis, for use as expendable combat troops or emergency reinforcements. These slumbering zombie-warriors are stored at the Clarke Island facility, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.

            As can be expected, cloistered in underground bunkers and deployed as weapons, the vast majority of Graverobbers have no real life outside the military. The few that go AWOL are the exceptions, and find life outside the military extremely difficult, both medically and, to a lesser degree, emotionally.

Graverobber Racial Traits
            All Graverobbers have the following racial traits.

Size and Type
            Graverobbers are Medium Undead with the Patriot subtype. As Medium creatures, Graverobbers have no special bonuses or penalties based upon their size.

Normal Speed (EX)
            Graverobbers have a base landspeed of 30 ft.

Ability Score Modifiers
            +2 STR, +2 DEX, -2 INT, -2 CHA.
Graverobbers are designed to be tough, battle-ready zombie soldiers. Deep introspection and strong, well developed personalities are not desirable traits in expendable post-human infantry. As Undead, Graverobbers have no CON score.

Darkvision 60 ft (EX)
Graverobbers have Darkvision with a 60 ft range.

Born Again (SU)
The techno-magical cybernetics and blood-replacement fluids coursing through their veins will let the Graverobber claw himself back from the dead eventually, no matter how badly mangled his corpse is.

If slain, the Graverobber will automatically return to life within 1d4 hours with one hit point; or within 1d6 days if their body is reduced to -20 HP or fewer by the incident that destroys them. Graverobbers destroyed by positive energy effects will not return to life via their Born Again racial trait, nor can a Graverobber reduced to -100 HP or worse, or one whose body is completely disintegrated or otherwise totally destroyed. 

A Graverobber receives one permanent negative level each time he returns from the dead in this manner, or suffers one point of permanent CHA loss if first level. A Graverobber permanently reduced to 0 CHA cannot return to life.

A Graverobber who enters a Puzzle Ops birth-coffin (see equipment section) within a day of its return to life and undergoes complete rest within for at least one day receives a DC 20 WILL save to remove the negative level or restore the lost CHA.        

Aside from their Born Again racial trait, Graverobbers cannot be raised or resurrected.

Extreme Violence (SU)
Graverobbers returned from their time dead changed. Even the most compassionate and seemingly kindest Graverobber is capable of extreme sociopathy and ruthless, dispassionate violence. Their killing lust only increases as the battle wears on.

When the Graverobber first confirms a critical hit during an encounter, he gains a bonus die that he rolls and adds to critical hit confirmation rolls during the encounter. This bonus confirmation die begins at DC and increases as the Graverobber confirms additional critical hits. However, the Graverobber takes a penalty on attack rolls, due to loss of control and precision, which begins at -1 and increases as the Graverobber confirms additional critical hits.

Critical Hits During Encounter
Attack Roll Penalty
Confirmation Bonus Dice
First Critical Hit
Second Critical Hit
Third Critical Hit
Fourth and Later Critical Hits

            If the Graverobber beats the critical confirmation roll by 10 points or more, he may choose one of the additional effects in lieu of extra damage.
  • The critical hit inflicts 1d6+1 points of temporary CON damage
  • The critical hit inflicts 1d4 points of ongoing Bleed damage
  • The Graverobber rolls 1d20 + relevant modifiers for damage rather than the critical hit normal damage dice

Spec Ops Training (EX)
Graverobbers receive special military training, which grant them a +1 racial bonus on Disable Device, Intimidate and Survival checks.
Undead Immunities (EX)
            Graverobbers have all the immunities common to Undead player characters.

Undead Player Characters
            Undead player characters have all the traits common to Undead (described fully in The Pathfinder Bestiary I), with one notable exception. As thinking beings, with true souls, Undead player characters remain vulnerable to mind-influencing effects.

An Undead player character’s Hit Die, base attack bonus and base saves are determined by its character class.

Alternate Graverobber Racial Traits
            Graverobbers might emerge from a Puzzle Ops operating theater with customized abilities, atypical for their kind. Of course, applying the word ‘atypical’ to a walking corpse trained as a government assassin is difficult.
            Burning Dead (SU)
            Replaces: Extreme Violence
            High explosives and incendiary rounds ended the Graverobber’s first life, and their reanimated corpse channels this same fire as a weapon. The corpse’s horrific, body wide full-thickness burns are hidden beneath Kevlar and rubber body armor.

The Graverobber gains the Fire subtype and becomes immune to Fire damage.

            At first level, any natural or melee weapon attack made by the Graverobber inflicts an additional +1 fire damage. At 5th level, natural and melee attacks made by the Graverobber inflict an additional +1d4 fire damage; this increases to +1d6 fire damage at 10th level.

            Covert Ops Vampire (SU)
            Replaces: Extreme Violence, modifies Ability Score Modifiers
            Vampires have always existed in humanity’s shadow, but Puzzle Ops weaponized them in the late 1980s. Project: NIGHT OWL, headquartered in Chicago, returns US soldiers, crippled or killed in battle, to life as blood-drinking supersoldiers.

            Variant Ability Score Modifiers
            +2 DEX, +2 CHA.
Covert Ops Vampires have a much more complete, and darkly beautiful appearance than conventional, badly scarred and cyber-enhanced Graverobbers. They resemble the classic vampire, with pale milk skin, hypnotic eyes and dark hair; the only difference, they traded the Hammer Horror finery for tactical body armor.

            The Covert Ops Vampire’s ability score modifiers replace the typical Graverobber ability scores modifiers. As undead Covert Ops Vampires have no CON score.

            Draining Bite (EX)
            Covert Ops Vampires gain a natural bite attack as a secondary attack that inflicts 1d4 + ½ STR modifier points of piercing damage. Covert Ops Vampires inflict 1 point of temporary CON damage  on a critical hit, or if they bite a helpless, willing or restrained target. Each point of CON drained heals the Covert Ops Vampire for 5 Hit Points if wounded.
            Sunlight Vulnerability (EX)    
            Covert Ops Vampires are extremely sensitive to sunlight, and suffer 1d6 points of fire damage each round, when exposed to sunlight, or 1d4 points of fire damage if exposed to dim sunlight (such as on a cloudy or rainy day, or at sunrise or sunset). Vampires with total cover do not take damage from sunlight, nor do vampires wearing specialized sun-proofed clothing or armor (see the equipment section).

            Field Surgery (EX)
            Replaces: Born Again
            The Graverobber is a patch-work of mismatched organs, held together with industrial staples and bio-glue. The Graverobber can steal the organs from the recently slain, and use them to repair himself, or upgrade his own capabilities.

            With a DC 10 Heal check and at least 5 minutes of work (which requires at least a first aid kit/healer’s kit), the Graverobber can transplant organs from any humanoid or monstrous human corpse of size Medium or Large, killed within the previous hour. This allows the Graverobber to recover 1d6 Hit Points per Hit Die possessed by the corpse, to their full normal maximum.

            The Graverobber can also transplant limbs, which requires a DC 15 Heal check and at least 10 minutes work. The Graverobber replaces one of their own limbs with that from the corpse, gaining any extraordinary abilities inherent to that limb.  Only limb may be transplanted per corpse, and limbs that have no clear human analogue (such as wings or tails) can not be transplanted.

            Occult Training (EX)
            Replaces: Special Ops Training
            Rather than conventional military skills, you were taught the secret history of the world and the dark things that hide in its shadows. You receive a +1 racial modifier on Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft and Use Magic Device skill checks.

The other race I want to preview, which are more innately psionic, are the Cityborn. These guys were clearly Jack Hawksmoore analouges, and I had a lot of fun writing the expanded race sourcebook for them. Alot of that material is kept in the revision. 

Something that's fun, if you pick the right combination of alternate racial traits, not only can you build Hawksmoore, you could also build a fairly accurate Miles Morales, the current Ultimate Spiderman. 

Medium Humanoid (Cityborn, Psionic)
            “My prime cover’s an architectural futurist from Vancouver. It’s more than a simple cover, though. I know the talk, know the current, know the math. I know it better than I know my Colt. I’ve raised three skyscrapers in Otemachi, buried a geothermal tap in Iceland, and last week I helped Doctors Without Borders hook up a desalination plant on the Somali coast. And right now, I’m going out the door to toetag a cell of Blooded Ghost genescrapers that’s infested the Castro. Two sides of my life and they both serve The City. I love my job.”
            - Personal datastacks: Ariel Atlanta, Puzzle Ops executive cadre. January 9, 2014

            The Cityborn are a variant strain of humanity, a natural mutagenic response to an increasingly mechanized and urbanized planet. The first Cityborn mutates emerged during the late 1950s, oddities that quickly became an accepted, if disturbing part of life in mega-cities like London and Tokyo. Over the years, Cityborn births have occurred around the globe, with a massive concentration of these strange mutants emerging in overcrowded, heavily polluted India.

These Cityborn children are the first citizens of a coming Earth where there is nothing but city, where industrialization and urban sprawl have claimed every corner of the globe. When Cityborn sleep, they dream of a fully mechanized planet, a chrome, glass and steel construct sheathing Earth. Among themselves, the post-humans refer it to simply as The City, and none of the cities of the modern, disconnected Earth can match the efficient majesty of The City itself. Cityborn consider themselves both harbingers and engineers of The City- their actions bring The City out of the blue prints encoded in their genes and into the present.

            Cityborn can easily pass as ordinary humans, especially humans of East Asian descent, where the species is most common and numerous. A Cityborn’s appearance is closely tied to the city around them. A Cityborn residing in a thriving, prosperous city seems vibrant, healthy, confident and attractive. Meanwhile, a Cityborn existing in city undergoing some kind of misfortune- war, oppression, crushing poverty or a natural disaster will look sickly and disheveled like an old junkie on a bad bender.

            Cityborn conceal an ever-shifting, ever-changing canvas of sigils and enigmatic tattoos beneath their clothes. These seemingly random markings consist of odd phrases, incomplete memes, blurred or pixilated images that provide a glimpse of the City and its future. Major world events, or major events concerning a city that the Cityborn has an especially intense connection to hinted at by these decorations. The larger and more centrally located on the body, the more important the event foretold.  Wars, terrorist attacks, world-changing new technologies, natural or manmade disasters and other global crisis all appear on the Cityborn’s skin, often weeks before the fact.

            Trying to decipher the enigmas etched on their skin occupies much of a Cityborn’s free time. Trying to get that half an hour edge, that day of warning before a tragedy…. For Cityborn, failing to decipher the future’s garbled headline blurbs is the greatest sin of all, and the one action that might ultimately destroy The City before it is built.

Reproduction and Biology
            Despite their mostly human appearance, if a Cityborn is wounded, he or she will bleed motor oil, paint, gasoline, liquid concrete or some other strange, urban fluid in place of blood. Cityborn internal anatomy is like nothing human, resembling an abstract sculpture of a mega-highway interchange more than mammalian organs.

            Even the most skilled para-physicians can rarely perform more than basic first aid to assist a wounded Cityborn, and even baseline care sometimes fails, for reasons no one can properly articulate. When Cityborn die, they rapidly decay, their flesh putrefying completely within minutes, revealing a skeleton of twisted rebar and knotted cords, a found object statue where a person used to be…..

            Cityborn do not breed- most cannot, at least not without risking their lover’s death. Cityborn are themselves incapable of reproduction, and sexual compatibility with baseline humans is simply not possible. The same mutations that empower them often twist a Cityborn’s genitals into aberrations of black steel, rebar, tarmac and fiber-optics, a found sculpture in the shape (roughly) of a human penis or vagina. Cityborn can and do feel affection for humans, and even begin relationships, but for most, sexual contact is too dangerous, and too revolting, to contemplate.

Homelands and Culture
            Unable to bear children of their own, Cityborn are spontaneously generated by the world’s expanding urban infrastructure. To use a common analogy among the post-humans, The City is like a gestating fetus, created from the gametes of the modern cityscape, and the Cityborn are its protective antibodies. While the ‘antibodies’ themselves are sterile, they are vital to both the propagation of their race and of The City itself.

            Cityborn are created by the world’s cities itself. They gestate in a nest of concrete and redirected water mains, an artificial womb powered by stolen electrical cabling. Phone jacks and old internet cables educate the Cityborn as he or she grows, wired directly into the developing skull. A city may remain gravid with a Cityborn protector for years, even decades, only birthing the Cityborn before some imminent catastrophe or crisis point. Cityborn wombs are found in out of the way corners, forgotten subway interchanges and obscure sewer access mains, buried beneath a protective layer of garbage and detritus. Cityborn emerge from their urban wombs fully grown, with an apparent age somewhere in their 20s or 30s, and as much worldly knowledge as would be expected of a person their age.

As Soldiers
            Cityborn mutates have found their ways into the world’s intelligence community and criminal underworlds, blending their natural gift for stealth and survival with an unmatched knowledge of the cities they are genetically bonded to.

Psi-Watch has recruited hundreds of Cityborn mutates as urban operatives, and after the Patriot Ivories, Cityborn make the up the largest percentage of Psi-Watch meta-humans. Puzzle Ops and other intelligence services have also seen the value in these urban hunters. Cityborn operatives can be found at almost every Puzzle Ops station house or field office around the globe. By fighting global superhuman terror, Cityborn agents ensure the smooth construction of The City, ensuring that when a Cityborn fights, it is with unrelenting passion.

Cityborn Racial Traits
            All Cityborn have the following racial traits.

Size and Type
            Cityborn are Medium Humanoids with the Psionic subtype. As Medium creatures, Cityborn have no special bonuses or penalties based upon their size.

Normal Speed / Fast Speed (EX)
            Cityborn have a base landspeed of 30 ft.
However, in urban areas with a population of at least 500,000, the Cityborn’s base landspeed increases to 40 ft.

Ability Score Modifiers
+2 to any ability score.
Like baseline humans, Cityborn may add +2 to any ability score of choice at character creation. Cityborns are a highly adaptable, versatile and unpredictable species.

Enhanced Senses (EX)
The Cityborn receives low light vision.
Additionally, when when in any urban area with a population of at least 1 million the Cityborn gains the scent special quality.

Racial Skills (EX)
The Cityborn are optimized for urban life. Cityborn characters receives a +4 racial bonus on Craft (structural), Drive, Diplomacy checks made to gather information and Knowledge (local) checks, but only if the Cityborn makes the check in an urban area with a population of at least 500,000. The Cityborn receives no skill bonuses in smaller cities or rural land.

Blessing of the City (SU)
The City watches and protects her favorite children, the Cityborn. As long as the Cityborn is in a major urban center with a population of at least one million, anytime she rolls an action dice, the Cityborn rolls one additional action dice and may take the better result.
Exotic Anatomy (EX)
A Cityborn’s internal structures are dramatically different than an ordinary humans’, and utterly unlike most alien races. Non-Cityborn physicians attempting to use the Heal skill to aid a Cityborn suffer a -4 penalty unless they possess the Xeno-Medic feat.

Naturally Psionic (EX)
            Cityborn gain the Wild talent feat as a bonus feat at 1st level. If the Cityborn takes levels in a psionic class, she instead gains the Psionic Talent feat.

            Psionic Aptitude (EX)
            Whenever the Cityborn takes a level in a psionic class, she can choose to gain an additional power point instead of a hit point or skill point.

Urban Lifebond (EX)
Each day the Cityborn is away from a large urban area for more than 8 hours, or stays in any city with a population less than 100,000 he must succeed at a FORT Save (DC 10 + the number of previous saves) or suffer 1d4 points of temporary CON and WIS drain. The Cityborn cannot begin recovering the drain until he or she returns to a city with a population of at least 500,000 people.

            Finally, her bond to major cities occasionally causes her great pain. If any city with a population of at least 100,000 suffers catastrophic damage (such as a nuclear detonation or major natural disaster) and the Cityborn is within 1,000 miles, she must succeed at a DC 20 FORT Save or fall into a coma for 1d6 hours. Success means the Cityborn remains conscious but is considered shaken for 1d6 hours.

Urban Metabolism (EX)
The City’s smog shrouded air heals and nourishes the Cityborn. As long as the Cityborn remains in a major urban center with a population of at least five million, he does not need food or water to survive, and he becomes immune to all toxins and poisons.

Population Benchmarks
            Many of the Cityborn’s racial traits are keyed to the size of the city they are adventuring in. The following chart summarizes what abilities become active at what population benchmark.
Urban Population
What Abilities Become Active
Less than 500,000
Urban Lifebond begins damaging the character
+10 ft base land speed; racial skill bonuses; Urban Lifebond damage ceases
Gains scent; Blessing of the City Activates
Becomes immune to starvation, thirst, poisons

Alternate Cityborn Racial Traits
            Cityborn often manifest unique powers, indigenous one of Earth’s alpha cities. Cityborn are justly proud of their unique gifts…. and of the great city that birthed them.

            The Atlas Protocol
            Puzzle-Ops makes it a point to unearth, catalogue and prematurely decant gestating Cityborn, under its Atlas Protocol. One of the many initiatives of Chuck Wisenfeld’s tenure as director, the Atlas Protocol began systematically mapping Cityborn breeding in late 1989. To date, the Atlas Protocol has uncovered more about the Cityborn lifecycle than any other organization to date, and recruited dozens of powerful new Cityborn for Puzzle Ops.
When removed from their urban wombs early, Cityborn take on an adolescent configuration, and lack some of the indomitable will and fanatical purpose that adults of the race are known for. However, they lack none of the race’s raw power, nor its connection to the world’s cities, making them ideal, easily indoctrinated operatives.
            Atlas Protocol Cityborn (EX)
Modifies: Ability Score Modifiers, Racial Skills          
Alpha Protocol begin play in the young adult age category and appear as roughly high-school age. They may not apply their floating racial ability score modifier to either their WIS or CHA scores.

Alpha Protocol Cityborn receive a +1 cumulative racial bonus on Stealth checks while in urban areas per 500,000 inhabitants (maximum +5 bonus). When within an urban area with a population of at least 5 million, the Alpha Protocol Cityborn receives a +1 luck bonus to Armor Class; this increases to +2 at 10th level.

            Post-Human Parkour (EX)
            Replaces: Naturally Psionic and Psionic Aptitude
            Modifies: Ability Score Modifiers
            The Cityborn is one of the most agile predators in the urban eco-system. Lacking the psionic gifts of his species, Cityborn who develop this power set make due with sheer physicality. The palms of the Cityborn’s hands, and the soles of his feet, are toughened and bio-mechanical, with the traction gripping design of a Goodyear radial.

            The Cityborn must place his floating ability score modifier into DEX.

            The Cityborn gains a Climb speed equal to his base land speed (30 ft normally, 40 ft in urban areas with a population of at least 500,000).

            Cityborn with this racial trait do not gain the Psionic subtype.
Racial Flux (EX)
Blessing of the City
            Your facial features flow like wax, gradually changing to reflect the demographics of the city you inhabit. As a result, when you are in a city with a population of at least 500,000, you never suffer a penalty on Disguise checks for disguising yourself as a member of a different race, gender species, so long as the species you are imitating is basically humanoid and Medium sized.

            Urban Chameleon (Ps)
            Replaces: Naturally Psionic
            When in an urban area with a population of at least 500,000, you gain the ability to use Chameleon as a psi-like ability. You may use this ability once per day in a city with a population of 500,000, and an additional time per each million inhabitants, to a maximum of three times per day in an urban area with a population of 2.5 million or greater.

Urban Druid (SU)
Blessing of the City
Requires: ability to cast 1st level spells
            You realize that the mechanical and biological ecosystems of cities are united in symbiotic purpose, and that the rats, pigeons, feral cats and other urban scavengers are as much a part of The City as you are. When using any Summon (Monster, Nature’s Ally, ect) spell within the confines of a city, you add 5 rounds to the spell’s duration if the creatures summoned are native to an urban environment.

            Urban Manifester (SU)
            Replaces: Blessing of the City
            Requires: psionic power point reserve
            The intoxicating energy of major cities supercharges your advanced, post-human neurology. As long as you are in an urban area with a population of at least one million, your manifester level, and thus the amount of power points you can expend on a single power, increases by one. In an urban area with a population of at least five million, your manifester level increases by two.

 Anyway, let me know what you think. Of course, I'll be adding more content, such as more alternate racial traits, racial feats and talents, right up till publication, and that's a ways in the future. 

Blessed Be, 


Andrew Antolick said...

Hi, I've been a fan of your work for months and have been downloading your products. Two questions:

1. Paizo has recently announced the release of a guide to technology in Pathfinder, how will this affect your work?

2. I am excited for the Endara setting, can things from other settings end up in Endara? I'm hoping to play a Nanofeaster Lich that defends newborn hybrid babies from angry mobs.

Chris A. Field said...

Dude, I'm glad you're liking my stuff. I actually just heard about the technology guide earlier this week and I'm anxiously awaiting it. I will go through, give it a good read on release date and likely incorporate most, if not all, of the content.

(I might keep my referring to my own cybernetic rules, found in The Polymer Path rather than the standard, though.)

In answer to your second question....yes. YESSSSSS, YESSSSS!

That sounds awesome, and I've not done nearly enough with Endara. Yeah, mix and match to your hearts content. That's one of the most fun aspects of the D20 system, is how modular and inclusive it is. I grew up playing Rifts, and I love big, inclusive, kitchen sink settings and heroes with really complex, mix & match powers.