Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Torchbearer (Tactical Automaton)

My life has been so short that I really know nothing whatever. I was only made day before yesterday. What happened in the world before that time is all unknown to me...


Torchbearer (Fackeltr├Ąger)
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40'0
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 4d6 (burst of flame)
Save: F6
Morale: 12

Torchbearers are a type of Straw Trooper, packed with dry straw and coated with pitch, tar or creosote scraped from chimneys or any other flammable substances right at hand. These soft-automatons are held together by old belts, knotted cords and bits of twine or cast-off bits of rope. They resemble Stretcher-Bearers, Stick-Men and Scarecrows but are far less sturdy and intended to be destroyed in the course of carrying out their suicidal incendiary attack upon designated targets.

Originally raised in desperation, they are equipped with hooded lanterns, miner lamps or long-hafted torches -- whatever is readily available -- and sent in the direction of the enemy forces to set fire to their stores, baggage trains and ammunition depots. Cheap and effective, they have been used to break sieges, burn down recalcitrant villages, to spoil croplands behind retreating armies and a multitude of atrocities both large and small.

They hear nothing and have no true intelligence. Once their torch is lit, they run at full speed in a straight line toward whatever they are pointed at and do their best to set fire to everything they come into contact with along the way. They can 'see' clearly up to 300' in most conditions, having no difficulty moving through Black Smoke or clouds of fighting gas. In addition they are unaffected by Hold, Charm, Sleep, ESP, most forms of glamer or illusion and Fear effects. Only clerics focused on combating machines, constructs and automata can attempt to Turn these things but do so as though they were 6 HD monsters.

A typical Torchbearer remains viable for 1d4 Turns per HD and cannot be healed, repaired or recovered. When their time is up, or they reach their intended target, they burst into flames causing 4d6 damage in a 10' radius.


Commandant Zulmer of the the Wall Guard has come under intense criticism for allegedly approving a plan to bolster the units along the Inner Ramparts with an unverified number of Strohtruppen and salvaged Fyters. Some of the most scathing condemnation has come from the ultra-conservative Black Rose Coalition who control nearly a third of the Security Council. Representatives of the Black Rose demand that instead of resorting to such inhuman things as Straw Troopers to reinforce the ranks of the seriously depleted Wall Guard units, that they instead return to the time-honored practice of utilizing undead soldiers...

Source of Inspiration: Torchbearers are pretty much a version of the Scarecrow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as seen through the distorting lens of Arthur Machen: "...it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead." They are the product of an awful lore taught primarily to the Umheimlich Korps and a select few other special units of the Imperial Pruztian Army during the time of the First Pruztian Occupation of Wermspittle, when it was still considered a state secret. After the withdrawal of Pruztian forces, prior to the Second Occupation, a number of training manuals detailing the Pruztian methods of crafting these, and several similar soft-automata, were seized upon by freedom fighters and agents of the Academy effectively ending the Pruztian monopoly on such things.

2 comments:

  1. I like how Wermspittle keeps getting incrementally more horrors of modern war (meaning Franco-Prussian war to WW1). These things are horrible.

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    1. The majority of the setting has been reduced to Medieval levels from the height of Napoleonic-American Civil War levels (Which covers the Franco-Prussian War nicely), with some aspects of WWI stuff, but with the almost complete absence of internal combustion engines and no steam power. The Mills, the Chemist-Labs, the metal-shops and much of the industrial plant set-up in Wermspittle prior to the massive aerial bombardment were in support of the airships. The place is swarming with refugees, plague-victims and deserters from cut-off units much like the village in Rutger Hauer's movie Flesh and Blood, which evokes a bit of the 1500s. So, yeah, things are a bit mixed-up, which we explored a little bit in some of the Bujilli episodes just before he left for the Gormenstille on his rescue-mission. Time has been tampered with on a very deep level and the consequences of this tampering are pretty drastic, but people have adapted, after a fashion. There is a lot of rebuilding and recovery of old stuff at the heart of all this, inspired in no small part by the whole Medieval=Post Apocalyptic interpretation of history. Sea of Stars pointed out a nifty Doctor Who parallel where the forces on Skaro were using increasingly more archaic and old-fashioned weapons as they ran out of the resources needed to maintain the more modern ones. In Wermspittle, you get some of that, plus you get the insane geniuses and mad wizards cobbling together horrid new things from out of the wreckage as well. There's a very good reason I posted about those old movies like The Time Travelers (1964), The ultimate Warrior, Vampire circus...and so on back at Old School Heretic...

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