Friday, March 31, 2017

Horrors of the Lifechain Volume II

It’s been about a month since I last posted. Partly that’s because for the last year or so I’ve been working at a local college as a janitor for my ‘civilian’ job. The pay’s decent and I’ve been getting decent benefits, including medical and dental. Dental was a big advantage a few weeks ago, as I ended up having some teeth pulled. That was mentally, physically, and financially a blow: I’m terrified of dental surgery and it’d been years since I’d been to one. Plus, just the physicality of the surgery was pretty miserable, when I left the dentist, I felt like I’d been in a life and death struggle, just poisoned by fear and adrenaline, shaky for days. 

Plus, even with the dental insurance, my copay took a big chunk out of my discretionary funds, saving and art budget. So a couple of projects got delayed. (On a happier note, a toy fair in San Antonio took up another chunk of change but to more enjoyable ends, as I picked up about 200 dollars worth of random Transformers, including some nice G1 catches.) Add to that, the fact I’ve been either at work or at home and haven’t really felt like posting means I’ve been unfortunately silent.

However, I’ve not been idle and I’ll be releasing a new monster book with between 45-50 new creatures either this weekend or early next week. This will be Horrors of the Lifechain Volume II, introducing a host of dangerous new Lifespawn and space-themed monsters, including unique riffs on some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy monstrosities. There's a few creatures I'll be commissioning original artwork for, but most of the new monsters will be specifically designed around an existing piece of stock art. Others are being illustrated with either artwork that went unused from previous projects, whil a few are few pieces of repurposed art. I'm also planning to include a ton of new monsters usable against Anthro and Battlechanger characters, specifically, tying into those cultures backstories and taking advantage of their specific weaknesses. I want to specifically offer thematic bad guys to players and GMs who've picked up either Fursona Unleashed or Battlechangers: Ironworks. 

So lets take a look at a pair of the new creatures you’ll meet up in this upcoming sourcebook as well as the stock art I’ve chosen to illustrate them.

 The first, the Eradica, was a pretty fun critter to design. I based it on the giant insectoid death-machines that made up the Ga Lak Tus swarm in Warren Ellis' Ultimate Galactus trilogy. I found a cool stock illustration from Jacob Blackmon of Purple Duck Games that reminded me of the Ga Lak Tus bugs, so I included this monstrosity. I think they fit in pretty well with the other Lifespawn. The fact I was able to use this creature to reskin and repurpose one of the neatest new monsters in Paizo’s Bestiary III was just gravy. 

(For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me post the image I'm using. Don't worry, you'll see it soon enough.)

Eradica – CR 15
Gargantuan CE Undead (lifespawn)
XP 51,200
Init +5   Senses Darkvision 90 ft, Lifesense 500 miles, true seeing, Perception +6 
Aura Desecration (20 ft radius, acts as desecrate)

AC 28 Touch 13 Flatfooted 26 (-4 size, +1 DEX, +1 dodge, +15 natural, +5 profane)
HP 22d8 +154* hp (253 HP)
Damage Reduction 15/slashing and good
FORT +14* REF +10* WILL +21*
Channel Resistance +4 Spell Resistance 26
Immune undead traits
Resist Cold 10, Electricity 10, Fire 15
Weaknesses Lifecount 4

Spd 60 ft Fly 120 ft (average) Space Flight 2,500 ft (perfect)
Melee four +25 stings (2d8+13 piercing plus 3d6 energy* plus energy drain, 20/x3)
Special Attacks Energy Drain (1 level, F-DC 26)
Special Qualities All-Around Vision, Greater Starflight
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th Concentration +26) 
Constant – desecrate (* Eradica acts as an unholy altar- effects included in statblock above) 
-          true seeing

Str 36 Dex 13 Con – Int 3 Wis 22 Cha 20
Base Atk +16 CMB +29 CMD 40
Feats Cleave, Dodge, Dreadful Carnage, Following Step, Furious Focus, Great Cleave, Hover, Improved Initiative, Intimidating Prowess, Mobility, Power Attack, Step Up and Strike
Skills Fly +2, Intimidate +43

Environment any
Organization vast, numberless swarms, though only one Eradica ever touches down within the same geographic region. If that Eradica falls, it is not usually replaced, and the destruction of the world continues unabated.
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities
Anti-Life Energies (SU)
The energy damage inflicted by the Eradica is of no particular type and not subject to energy resistance or immunity. A creature destroyed by this energy is destroyed, along with all their gear.

Desecration (SU)
The Eradica’s body is surrounded by a continual aura of anti-life energies that acts as a constant desecrate spell. The Eradica itself acts as unholy altar, and the creature benefits from this effect, as noted in the stat block above. Undead created by the Eradica’s spawning vector ability gain +2 HP per HD.

Spawning Vector (SU)
The Eradica exists primarily to spread the anti-life taint of undeath. Any creature slain by the Eradica rises in 1d6 rounds as a free-willed wraith (B1), or a dread wraith if the slain creature had 15+ HD.  These wraiths are not under the Eradica’s direct control, as the Eradica exists only to spread chaos and death, but they will not attack the creature under any circumstance. 

Eradica are legendary and deeply feared Lifespawn who have extinguished as many civilizations as there are captive stars orbiting the Phallus. These nearly mindless, instinct-driven genocide machines are compelled by the Singular’s unknowable will– worlds where other Lifespawn bloodlines predominate, or whose actions attract the Singular’s dreaming attention – are scoured bare by their great hordes. Such swarms can eclipse a sun as they descend into the killing zone. Repelling an Eradica swarm is a task for the greatest and most powerful Lifespawn paragons, and only if the entire might of the system unites behind their champions. Few are up to the task.

Eradica are the harbingers of even worse things. Tzitzimitl (B3) often arrive on a world in the dark hours when the Eradica’s presence triggers an exponentially growing undead plague. The Tzitzimitl finishes the work the swarm began, extinguishing all life on the world and utterly destroying the biosphere. Left in the swarm’s wake is a dead, broken and scorched world, a planetary tomb haunted by the ghosts of billions.

Eradica are enormous bio-mechanical insects who stand more than 30 ft high at the thorax. Their hulls are a gleaming, steely black, freezing cold to the touch. Their swollen, fleshly abdomen pulse with sickly milk-light and a similar radiance glows at the widest portion of their long, razored wings. The creature’s head is a rough triangle of soulless compound eyes, proboscis and mandibles.

The second preview critter, the Scorpion Mirage, first appeared in Guide to the Known Galaxy (2008) and has been dramatically pumped up by its revision. The mechanics are cleaner and more concise and the creature is generally tougher and nastier over-all. It's an old favorite of mine, and fits in well with the Battlechangers. This art is by Erik Lofgren of Misfit Studios. 

Scorpion Mirage – CR 14
Colossal CE Magical Beast (Battlechanger, lifespawn)
XP 38,400
Init +4   Senses Darkvision 500 ft, lowlight vision, see in darkness, Lifesense 10,000 miles, sensors equal to a military-grade light starship, Perception +21        
Languages Draconic, Stonecutter, tongues

AC 26 Touch 6 Flatfooted 26 (-4 size, +20 natural)
HP 16d10 + 160 hp (248 HP)
FORT +20 REF +10 WILL +7
Immune poison, suffocation, radiation, vacuum
Resist Electricity 20, Fire 10, Force 10
Weaknesses Lifecount 3

Spd 60 ft Space Flight 1,500 ft (perfect)
Melee four +26 claws (2d6+14 slashing, 20/x2)
Ranged two +12 ion barrage (10d10 electrical, 20/x3, 1,000 ft range increment, single shot)
Special Attacks rend (2 claws, 2d6+14 slashing), pounce
Special Qualities Freeze (starship form), Greater Starflight No Breath
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 16th Concentration +18) 
Constantdata read
-          tongues
At Willpirate’s registration (W-DC 15)

Str 38 Dex 11 Con 30 Int 11 Wis 14 Cha 13
Base Atk +16 CMB +34 CMD 44 (48 vs bullrush, trip)  
Feats Blind Fight, Cleave, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Skill Focus (disguise)
Skills Disguise +26 (+46 freeze), Perception +21

Environment deep space
Organization usually solitary
Treasure standard (usually ‘undigested’ cargo stored in a mimicked cargo hold)

Special Abilities
Fuelon Feeder (EX)
If the Scorpion Mirage kills or incapacitates a creature of the Battlechanger subtype, it can devour that victim’s Fuelon Reserve as a full round action. Doing so restores the Scorpion Mirage’s Fuelon Reserve. Once the its Fuelon Reserve is full, the Scorpion Mirage can expend any Fuelon remaining in the victim to benefit from a Heal spell.

Fuelon Reserve (EX)
The Scorpion Mirage is considered to have a Fuelon Reserve of 2 points. It can expend a point of Fuelon to achieve a variety of effects, described fully in Battlechangers: Ironworks.

Hull Ripper (EX)
The Scorpion Mirage’s claws ignore the Hardness and Damage Reduction of non-magical materials.

Techno-Mimicry (SU)
The Scorpion Mirage’s bio-mechanical anatomy and metamorphic gifts allow it to perfectly imitate a mid-sized cargo or military starship, including mimicking technological and emission signatures such as reactor radiation, IFF transponders and the like. The Scorpion Mirage gains a +20 racial bonus on Disguise checks to pass itself as an ordinary starship.

The Scorpion Mirage can change details of its disguise at will, as a full round action. It can change its class, hull design, configuration, as well as electronic signatures, colors and markings.

Scorpion Mirage are wily ambush predators. Born in the depths of space, these crab
like monsters use iron ores stripped from micrometeorites to sculpt an intricate shell around themselves, an innocuous facade to draw prey into their clutches. Early Scorpion Mirage imitated small ore-rich asteroids, feeding on prospectors and their ships when they came to mine.

As the Scorpion Mirage have evolved, theyhave discovered new capabilities and surprising
wells of cunning. Today, they grow shells mimicking small space-cruisers and single-pilot star fighters. Bioreactors in the Mirage’s guts manufacture radiation signatures similar to those generated by a starship in distress. The creatures can easily mimic common galactic languages, and demonstrate a facility for spacer jargon and military flight protocols. Scorpion Mirages are cunning imitators who enjoy stringing prey along, playing out the con that they’re just another passing vessel.

When a Mirage attacks, its metallic and polymer shell splits apart along previously unnoticed
seams. Beneath the shell, the vaguely arthropodal creature is a horrible medley of sword-like talons and intricate, multilayered and interlaced mouthparts. It raises its mil-spec ion pulse cannons like a charging scorpion before killing, an obvious source for their Terran codename.

Scorpion Mirages hunt for pleasure as often as they do for the rare-earth minerals they need to fuel the bio-reactors in their guts. Most enjoy the game of luring a passing starship in to investigate an interesting ‘derelict’ or pretending to be a ship in distress to gain emergency landing clearance at a space dock. Scorpion Mirages particularly enjoy being brought aboard a larger vessel- they might allow spacers to investigate their disguised insides for hours, only dropping the disguise once their prey realize something isn’t adding up about the mystery starship they’d brought aboard. Scorpion Mirages usually leave at least a few crew alive to spread their legend… though they kill everybody else and if possible destroy the vessel or station entirely.

Scorpion Mirages delight in making huge sectors of space too risky to navigate, and love destabilizing galactic trade. If an especially nasty masquerade or especially juicy kill can spark an intergalactic war, so much the better. The creatures are unfortunately common in the Steel Sector, and the Freegear and Tyrakron governments alike have huge Fuelon bounties on the hulls of these sadistic living machines. 

In addition to Horrors of the Lifechain Volume II, I’ve got several books of new magical items and spells on deck. I’ve been working on three main sourcebooks simultaneously.

Heavy Grimorie
This book will likely be out first and offer tons of thematically appropriate spells and magic items, all based around thinly disguised, futuristic riffs on sleazy 1970s/80s culture and sci-fi tropes. It’s been a ton of fun to write, and I’ve got about ¾ of the art I need for the project already.

Other Magic & Magic Items Sourcebooks
Right now, I’ve got a ton of new spells and magic items gathered together under a single file-name “otherverse occult”. It includes generic, high-fantasy content, items and spells culled from my various Pathfinder releases over the years. Other elements are my take on a variety of historic and public domain artifacts and myths from European paganism. It also features a ton of Anthro specific magic items, Battlechanger spells and magic items, including a ton of awesome artifacts as well as Lifespawn stuff. I’ve also collected every ‘occult-tech’ spell and item I’ve imagined to date for the Choicers of Otherverse America.

On one hand, it’s a huge, confusing file without a central theme, or perhaps too many competing themes. If I put it out as is, it’ll be a big, 300+ page mess. A beautiful mess, but still a mess.

However, the various threads make an interesting whole. I can introduce items, for example, from Norse Mythology, which in addition to playing nicely in any generic Pathfinder RPG campaign, also look and feel good in the hand of an Asatru hero from Otherverse America, or fit well with the parts of the Lifechain that I want to look, feel and play like Jack Kirby’s Asgard. And since Anthros, Battlechangers and Lifespawns are iconic Otherverse races, with a pan-dimensional presence, it makes sense to gather their ‘toys’ all in one place.

So maybe mixing and matching elements ends up producing a tasty dish. Whether this book is one mega-sourcebook or 3-4 smaller books is still to be determined, but in either case, you should be seeing the content pretty soon.

Blessed Be,