Saturday, February 28, 2015

Otherverse 2.0's cultural templates

Last post, I’ve mentioned I’ve begun revising Otherverse America. Right now, I’ve been working on the mechanics, and I’m not sure how extensively I’ll be revising the setting. I’m not sure if I’ll create a new time line or move the setting’s default era to somewhen other than circa January 22, 2107. In some ways it’s tempting to do something like Shadowrun does with each new edition, and move the timeline 20-30 years forward.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made so far is to a certain extent abandoning the Advanced Classes emblematic of the setting, though not the concepts behind those classes. If I’m going to make this setting Pathfinder compatible, I want to do so wholeheartedly, by taking full advantage of the existing classes. I also really don’t want to create a bunch of new prestige classes… so what to do? I still want to have Midwives, Ghosts of Babies Past and other iconic character options.

Well, I’m playing with the idea of cultural templates, which I introduced in Black Tokyo Legends: Races of the Tatakama, and carried over into Black Tokyo Unlimited and Heavy Future. This way, you still have Covenguards and Midwives, but you expand the possibilities dramatically. Now, with this cultural template in place, sure you can have a Fighter Covenguard or a Caviler Covenguard, but you could also have something like a Covenguard Sorcerer, or a Midwife Alchemist or Midwife Summoner in addition to the cleric-like role the character filled in the original draft. I think it allows for some really fucking odd combinations: what the holy fuck would a Ubasti Midwife Barbarian look like, for instance?

The cultural templates summarize the core concept of a particular class (and there are other Choicer templates available, at least 3 more at the time of this writing) and sooner or later I’ll do a similar treatment of the Lifer iconic classes, as well as add some iconic roles for unaligned, APEX and Fed-Gov heroes. Players will be able to select traits and feats that cover many of the class abilities of the former classes turned templates, available only to those characters who chose the templates, with all their advantages and disadvantages.

So take a first look at the revised Covenguard and Neo-Witch Midwife cultural templates.
Later I’ll preview additional aspects of the revised rule set.


A Covenguard defends the coven and its priestesses, with his life and soul if necessary. Covenguard soldiers are modern paladins and questing knights, the chosen champions of technologically advanced, politicized abortion priestesses and the guardians of an embattled faith. Like the women they protect, Covenguards enhance their bodies with extensive cybernetic reconstruction and onboard weapons.

These elite, highly motivated bodyguards dedicate themselves to the protection of pagan America and survival of Choicer culture. They can be thought of as warrior priests, embodying the strength and protectiveness of the male archetype; worshippers of war-gods and fertility kings who bind themselves, body and soul, to the women whose cause they champion. Clad in gleaming gold and silver cyber-armor, Covenguard warriors are main battle tanks in humanoid shape, completely dedicated to the feminist ideals of the Covenant.

            The Covenguard cultural template produces a superhumanly durable, cyborg knight committed to the defense of women in both the chivalrous abstract and feminine choice in the concrete.

            The protection of the coven and its priestess is seen as a fundamentally male duty by most Covenant sects. Most prospective Covenguard must be male, though the Ásatrú  sect accepts the service of what they call valkyries, exclusively lesbian warriors who serve as rune-etched Covenguard stalwarts.

            Ability Score Modifiers
            +2 STR, +2 CON, -2 CHA. Covenguards are durable and indomitable, but taciturn. They speak little, concentrating on their duties and upon the oaths they’ve sworn.
Arms and Atheme (EX)
During their induction into the coven, and as they swear their vows of justice and courage, Covenguard warriors are implanted with collection of innovative nanonic cyber-implants. Unlike the sleek, blood red bionics of a Midwife, the Covenguard’s knightly arms are heavy armored, durable combat models. The cyborg limbs are colored in warm oranges, yellows, golds, brown and metallic grays, and are often decorated with patterns and acid etched sigils representing the many faces of the God.

            The Covenguard is treated as having the following suite of cybernetics, which do not count against his total Drain and are described fully in The Polymer Path (Otherverse Games, 2014). These implants all have the Nanotech tag, and regenerate at the same rate as the Covenguard’s organics.
·         Advanced Cyberlimb (dominant hand and arm)
·         Dermal Plating (medium or heavy)

The Covenguard can deploy a masterwork quality version of any one of these weapons from his Advanced Cyberlimb as part of an attack action, as if he possessed the Quick Draw feat with this weapon: dagger, kris, shortsword, warhammer. This weapon may be enchanted normally; once chosen, the weapon can only be changed by cybernetic surgery.

My Life For Yours (SU)
A Covenguard will sacrifice much in the defense of their faith and will die to protect the witch-women they love above all else.

The Covenguard may elect to place himself in the path of danger to protect a single ally, who must either be a woman (of any faith), or a pagan (of either gender). Once per round, if the Covenguard is adjacent to an eligible ally who is targeted by a direct attack, including spells or psi-talents, (though not an area effect) the Covenguard can subject himself to the attack in the ally’s stead as an immediate action. If the attack hits the Covenguard, he suffers damage normally. If it misses, it also misses the ally.

The Covenguard must declare his intention to place himself in harm’s way before the attack roll is made. The Covenguard may select a new eligible ally to protect each round.

            Oaths Spoken (SU)
            A Covenguard is knighted with great ceremony, inducted into the role of protector and witch’s champion before the assembled coven and the watching Lords and Ladies. The Covenguard is under a permanent geas/quest effect, which cannot be dispelled or removed. He is sworn to protect pagans of any gender, or women of any faith, to act chivalrously, and to defend the Covenant and its citizens against Lifer terrorism and oppression.

Neo-Witch Midwife
            Neo-Witch Midwives undergo one of the most comprehensive medical training programs in human history. In the Covenant, girls with both aptitude and passion for medicine, and the mental strength necessary to be a leader and protector to other women, are identified early. The most gifted of these children begin Midwife apprenticeship while in their early teens. Using a mid of traditional classroom learning, on the job training and apprenticeship, and psi-based learning, by the time her counterparts are entering high school, prospective Midwives have a medical education equal to that of a first year surgical intern, back in the first years of the 21st Century.

With their clinics protected behind military grade force-screens and their tattooed bodies enhanced by subdermal armor and integrated weapons, Neo-Witch Midwives accept the duty of fighting for choice in the abstract, and carrying out abortions when they must. Neo-Witch Midwives can best be thought of as obstetrician / social workers, cybernetically enhanced healers with a uniquely pagan world view.

            Midwives skew young. Far too many experienced Midwives were slain during the War, or shortly after, in ‘isolated terrorist incidents’ that no Choicer believes are truly isolated. Their replacements are young women in their early 20s, leading covensteads, running the day to day operations of clinics and serving as the face of the post-Christian, transhumanist Covenant.

            The Neo-Witch Midwife cultural template creates a passionate young physician-priestess, identified by the unique, blood-red bionic arm that is her badge of office and chief medical implement.

            The Covenant will only allow women to tend the medical needs of other women. The Neo-Witch Midwife cultural template is restricted to female characters. A handful of exceptions do exist, products of unique training streams, as transgender medics, or increasingly rare veterans of a time before the Covenant consolidated gynecological training in women’s hands, but they are one in a million oddities.

            Ability Score Modifiers
            +2 WIS. Neo-Witch training emphasizes the spiritual aspects of medicine, and sharpens the student’s will and compassion.

Feminist Medicine (EX)
The Neo-Witch Midwife sees herself as the last line of defense for a woman’s rights, and a bastion of medical care for needy women. The Midwife adds half her total character level as an insight bonus on Heal checks (maximum +10) made to treat female creatures, or assist in reproductive care.

Heal is always a class skill for Neo-Witch Midwife.

Obstetric Nanonics (EX)
            During apprenticeship, young Midwives are implanted with revolutionary cyber-systems that are her badge of office: the Ipas-VII Obstetric Nanonics cyberlimb. A nanonic infection and integrated micro-tech power-supply are knitted into the flesh of her arm. Over the next few weeks, the priestess’s dominant arm and hand is transformed by the cyber-infection from human blood and carbon into a sleek shape-memory polymer replacement.

            The Neo-Witch Midwife is treated as having the following suite of cybernetics, which do not count against her total Drain and are described fully in The Polymer Path (Otherverse Games, 2014). These implants all have the Nanotech tag, and regenerate at the same rate as the Midwife’s organics.
·         Advanced Cyberlimb (dominant hand and arm)
·         Olfactory Complex
·         Onboard Computer
·         Onboard Tool, Shapememory

            Demonized (EX)
            Neo-Witch Midwives are demonized as babykillers and worse among the Lifers. When interacting with any character with a Lifer patron deity, the Midwife rolls 2d20 on Bluff and Diplomacy checks and takes the worse result. All Midwives have performed abortions, and are always detected as such by a Neverborn’s extrasensory aura.

            Nuremberg Data-Piracy (EX)
            The fearsome, continent-spanning Nuremberg AI compulsively gathers data on the activities, careers and mental weaknesses of the abortion providing Midwives. Characters with a Lifer patron deity receive a +1 trait bonus per five character levels the Midwife has obtained on Computer Use checks made to find intel about the Midwife or hack her cyber-systems.

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