So what did I learn? Well the three characters were built at various power levels- the Motorcycle Midwife is a Cleric 6, the Sewer Truck Panty Freak a Ranger 3, and this badass you're about to meet is a Summoner 18, and an absolutely brutal fight. The stat blocks are a little longer than normal, and I debated whether doing a full vehicle stat block for each alt-mode, but eventually decided to just list the changes in a separate section, similar to how Paizo handles Barbarian Rage or other short term, in-combat transformations. I think it works okay, let me know....
Also, these guys are a bit unbalanced, power-wise, but less than I figured, and I find I really don't care too much that they've got incredibly high AC for their level at starting and low tier levels, and can haul INSANE amounts of gear. That's RIGHT for a race of giant robots- even in a high tech setting like Otherverse America, using guns against these big ass, giant metal mecha isn't going to work too well. The race's very high starting AC means that magic and psionics, or clever tactics or teamwork is required to take one down. So yeah, I doubt Battlechangers would be allowed in con games, because they're pretty powerful, but they're evocative, fun and true to the source material. To me, that's more important than pure mechanical balance.... call it a legacy of my first RPG being Rifts.
Anyway, our NPC today is Shocktread, a rather impressive homage of two of the best Decepticons- the classic Soundwave and the newer, but no less evocative, Tarn (that's the page image for today, by the way....). I decided to make her a CR 17 combat monster and place this NPC fairly high up in the Lifer command structure, just throw the Battlechangers concept right into the thick of things and see if it works. Shocktread does. She doesn't deal as much raw damage as her mentor Artemis (nowhere close!),but she's a battlefield control expert, with access to lots of summoning, buffing and teleportation spells- not to mention her own personal Ratbat/Laserbeak homage death machine- that allow a clever GM to use her to punch way outside her weight class. Basically, play her smart, and she can TPK parties at near epic levels.
Shocktread, Repentant Tyrakron Warlord – CR 17
Huge LN Monstrous Humanoid (Battlechanger) Summoner 18
Init +0 Senses Darkvision 500 ft, lowlight vision, perceive unencrypted radio/television/wifi signals, Perception +19
Languages Celestial, English, Tech-FG, Tech-SV, Tech-TY
AC 22 Touch 10 Flatfooted 22 (-2 size, +12 natural, +2 shield**)
HP 18d8 + 108 hp (193 HP)
FORT +13** REF +8** WILL +14**
Immune Fire, Suffocation, Vacuum
Weaknesses Cybernetic Security Risk -1
Spd 40 ft
Reach 15 ft
Melee +16/+11/+6 slam (2d8+5 bludgeoning, 20/x2)
Ranged +16/+11/+6 Seeking Antimatter Cannon of Distance (3d10+4 energy*, 19-20/x2, 80 ft range increment, semi auto)
Special Qualities Aspect, Eidolon, Bond Senses, Greater Aspect, Greater Shield Ally**, Life Bond, Life Link, Maker’s Call, Merge Forms, No Breath, Shield Ally, Transposition, Unhealing
**Greater Shield Ally is already figured into AC and saving throws, above.
Spellcasting (CL 18th Concentration +23)
Sixth – (3 slots) binding (W-DC 21), charm monster (mass) (W-DC 21), planar adaptation (mass), teleportation circle
Fifth – (5 slots) banishment (W-DC 20), greater heroism, greater rejuvenate eidolon, greater teleport
Fourth –(6 slots) hold monster (W-DC 19), mage’s faithful hound, overland flight, sending, teleport
Third – (6 slots) dimension door, dimensional anchor (W-DC 18), displacement, enlarge person (mass), fire shield, heroism, rejuvenate eidolon
Second – (6 slots) bull’s strength, cat’s grace, haste, invisibility, resist energy, see invisibility
First – (7 slots) expeditious retreat, protection from chaos, protection from good, rejuvenate eidolon (lesser), shield, unfetter
Zero –acid splash, detect magic, message, open/close, read magic, resistance
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th Concentration +23)
8x/Day – Summon Monster IX (or any lower level Summon spell)
Str 23 Dex 11 Con 20 Int 13 Wis 12 Cha 20
Base Atk +13 CMB +21 CMD 31
Feats Augment Summoning, Far Shot, Improved Critical (anti-matter cannon), Legend-Grade Technomage, Summoner’s Call, Spell Focus (conjuration), Toughness, Weapon Focus (anti-matter cannon)
Skills Intimidate +23, Knowledge (religion, history, technology) all +10, Perception +19
Headware – Onboard Computer
Damage Reduction x3 (3), Energy Shielding (fire) (1), Feat Programming (Weapon Focus) (2), Special Weapon (anti-matter cannon) (3)
Environment any land
Organization solitary or accompanied by other extremely high CR Lifer operatives or a smaller squad of subordinates, sometimes accompanying Artemis, Gen. Lang or other command level staff
Treasure standard (including gear)
Alloyed Technomage (SU)
Shocktread is the pinnacle of machine evolution- an Alloyed Battlechanger warrior with few rivals. She receives a +1 trait bonus on opposed skill checks made against Battlechangers without the Alloyed trait. She increases the Saving Throw DC of any spell she casts against Battlechangers without the Alloyed trait by +1 DC, which stacks with the effects of Spell Focus (Conjuration) when applicable.
Anti-Matter Cannon (EX)
Shocktread’s anti-matter cannon inflicts damage of an unspecified energy type, and is not subject to energy resistance or immunity.
Fuelon Reserve (EX)
Shocktread has 4 points in her Fuelon reserve. She can expend a point of Fuelon to achieve a number of results, described fully in Battlechangers: Ironworks.
Massive Strength (EX)
Shocktread’s pneumatics and artificial musculature allows her to haul enormous weights, out of proportion to her size. Her lifting, carrying and dragging limits are 100 times greater than a humanoid creature of her size. Her maximum load is 60,000 lbs.
Shocktread assumes the form of a goliath jet black, multi-tread combat tank of unknown model. In tank mode, she is as massive as a two story office building, and gouges deep canyons in the tarmac of any street she travels down. Her ani-matter cannon becomes the centerpiece of a lethal weapons array, including UAV launch tubes (which move to her upper spine in robot mode) from which she summons the robotic predator known as Life-Flight. Shocktread can change from alt-mode to robot mode as a move equivalent action that never provokes attacks of opportunity.
Classification Gargantuan Ground Fighter
Damage Reduction 15/-
Armor Class 25
Spd 100 ft (Slow alt-mode disadvantage)
Maximum Load 60,000 lbs
Shocktread’s Eidolon takes the form of an advanced combat UAV launched from the upper turret of her tank form. When deployed, the semi-autonomous Life-Flight drone spreads batlike wings. This eerily silent, jet black mechanoid is studded with luminous crimson energy vents that glow like bloody stars in the darkness. It prefers nocturnal operations. Life-Flight displays an almost animalistic devotion to its master, often perching atop her shoulder when she is in robot mode. For her part, Shocktread treats the drone with an affection she shows for very few other beings, mechanical or organic.
Hit Dice 14d10 + 70 hp (147 HP)
Size Huge Reach 15 ft Speed 40 ft Fly 50 ft (good)
Spell Resistance 29
Immune Critical Hits, Stunning, Fatigue and Exhaustion
Senses Darkvision 60 ft, lowlight vision
Saves FORT +9 REF +13 WILL +11
Attacks +23 bite (1d6 + 17 slashing, 20/x2), two +23 claws (1d8+11 slashing, 20/x2), +23 wing buffet (1d8 +11 bludgeoning, 20/x2)
Ability Scores STR 33 DEX 19 CON 21 INT 8 WIS 15 CHA 11
Skills Fly +26, Intimidate +17, Perception +19, Survival +19
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Fleet x2, Fly-By Attack, Hover, Power Attack
Special Qualities Bond Senses, Devotion, Evasion, Greater Shield Ally**, Improved Evasion, Life Bond, Life Link, Maker’s Call, Merge Forms, Shield Ally, Transposition
Evolutions Bite x2, Construct Immunities, Claws, Flight, Limbs (legs), Size Increase: Huge, Skilled (fly) Wing Buffet
The massive, somber Shocktread is one of the few xenoforms the fearsome star goddess Artemis trusted with command of the Lifer Army of God on Earth. Artemis encountered the Tyrakron general in campaigns across a ten million years, across a million solar systems. Artemis crippled the Tyrakron a thousand times or more and once, just once, Shocktread got the better of the star goddess. She commanded a meticulously planned assault that cost the lives of nearly 1,500 elite Tyrakron special forces troops and scortched the atmosphere of Robemiln-113, but nearly ended Artemis’ immortal existence. But when the thrill of conquest paled, when the glory of the Tyrakron Empire no longer held any luster, Shocktread drifted away from the armies she once proudly commanded.
Soon after her conversion to Evangelical Lifer Christianity, Artemis made a short sojourn to the stars, eventually tracking the reclusive Shocktread. Artemis introduced the concept of maternity and femininity to the then-genderless Shocktread, forcing the Tyrakron to realize that the affection she felt for her combat partner was almost maternal, and that Shockblast was what humans could easily describe as female. Finding new purpose, resolve and identity, Shockblast accompanied Artemis into Earthspace, bringing ten million years of tactical experience to the Lifer Army of God. Along with General Lang and the Ghosts, Shocktread became one of the core commanders of the war-time Army of God.
When Artemis fell at Boston, it was Shocktread who accompanied her body to her stellar tomb. She left Earth then, unbound by its laws and treaties, and left for the Big Black. She knew her one time rival, one time mentor would live again, and began intensive training and bio-system upgrades to be ready for her call. Her current whereabouts are unknown to humanity, but rumor of her presence beyond human explored space terrifies the Choicer military agencies tasked with tracking her.
Shocktread is a massive Tyrakron warrior sheathed in black steel plating that gleams like oil at night. Her already massive frame is made even more imposing by the thick treads that gird her shoulder plating, upper shoulders and hips. On Earth, she redesigned her breast plate and torso cladding for a more feminine shape, and took on purple trim and Lifer rank insignia, even altered her vocal processors to give her words a smoky, feminine and determined cadence. However, she did nothing to soften the multiple layers of cranial armor protecting her facial sensors and systems. Like Artemis herself, Shocktread is armed with a single massive cannon, an anti-matter containment bottle worn on her left forearm, which glows like a dying star.
Shocktread is a brilliant general, using her occult and alien abilities to enhance the troops under her command, or to augment tactical maneuvering. She prefers hit and run strikes and well-planned ambushes, and is patient enough to abort a strike if conditions are not exactly right. She is lethally efficient against armed combatants, and shows no mercy and little emotion in battle. However, she has little taste for atrocity and will make a few tactical concession to minimize civilian causalities. While on Earth, she fought fully in accordance with the Geneva and Baghdad Conventions.