Monday, June 19, 2017

Zinn Soldiers (Combat Automata of Wermspittle)

The Soldier is a splendid manWhen marching on parade,And when he meets the enemyHe never is afraid.He rights the wrongs of nations,His country's flag defends,The foe he'll fight with great delight,But seldom fights his friends...

Bad translations of the surviving interrogation transcripts leaked by Yellow Journalists during the collapse of the First Pruztian Occupation have led to many inconsistencies and much speculation regarding the origination and derivation of the various forms of combat automata known as 'Zinn Soldiers,' so-called because of their special alloy-plating.

Zinn Soldiers (Conscript Demi-Automata)
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 3 (as Plate Mail)
Hit Dice: 2+
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6, or by weapon
Save: F2+
Morale: 11

Special: Unlike Fyters, Zinn Soldiers gain experience in their respective class(es). Most are Fighters, but some are more specialized and a rare few are dual-classed. Also Zinn-plated portions of these soldiers gain a +4 bonus to all Saves versus acid, corrosion, Black Smoke, Purple Vapors, etc. However Zinn Soldiers still need to breathe, even if their face or head has been reconstructed, thus they remain at risk from poison gas and can drown or suffocate.

Zinn Soldiers are conscripted troops that have been rebuilt from the shattered remains of badly wounded and dismembered soldiers recovered from the battlefield. Originally the process was something of a progressive and aggressive replacement of lost body-parts with cheap zinn-plated prosthetic limbs. Zinn Soldiers usually retain some portions of their original human bodies whereas Fyters never had any experience of the flesh, having been turned out as fully functional automata from the factories.

Those troops, including a few higher echelon officers and the like, that have only received a simple replacement hand, foot, arm or leg were returned to their units with little fanfare. Those unfortunates that required more extensive efforts on the part of the battlefield surgeons lost more than just their human appearance as they were summarily conscripted into special infantry units made-up entirely of survivors like themselves, all of whom were now relegated to permanent service with no chance of release until after the cessation of hostilities, and even then only by special dispensation in recognition of outstanding service. These units, while often small in number, served as shocktroops and kommando units, often being the first ones in and the last ones out, especially if things went badly. Having already been documented and listed as killed in action, these troops were seen as eminently expendable by the High Kommand.

In the last months of the Great War a number of Zinn soldiers refused obviously suicidal orders, opting instead to either desert or rebel against their commanders. As more and more of the Zinn soldiers became troublesome and rebellious, they were replaced by Fyters, combat automata that had never known life of any kind and lacking sort of flesh or remnants of humanity. The introduction of the first Fyters resulted in a majority of Zinn Soldiers withdrawing from the field of battle to either go back to their homelands or to march off in a random direction in search of some place they could claim as their own. Not being at all sympathetic to their once-loyal troops, the Pruztian High Kommand condemned these traitors and set specialized units of Maschine Killers the task of hunting down and destroying disloyal Zinn Soldiers.

It is rumored that many Zinn Soldiers have since found aid and support among the Borderland Keeps and other Pruztian settlements located outside the Imperial City and those enclaves directly connected by Unterrail or other means. A sort of outlawry has arisen along the frontier of the Empire with Zinn Soldiers taking over various Lakeside Manors and other fortified locations and engaging in acts of banditry and subversion against the Nobility and their lawful representatives and agents. Some few are making names for themselves as disciplined units of Freikorps and perhaps they shall one day redeem their reputations and force some sort of reconciliation with the empire. Others wantonly destroy everything in their way as they wander across the wilderness, rootless and aimless and ripe for some well-spoken warlord or other such opportunist to set them to nearly any sort of mischief.

Based upon actual reports from the battlefields and given unofficial sanction by certain highly placed individuals who spoke under condition of anonymity, lurid horror stories concerning a few flawed individual Zinn soldiers, possibly damaged in combat, caught in the attempt to replace portions of their zinn-plated limbs or internal systems with bits of flesh taken from corpses or in some cases still-living victims. Nearly all of those aberrant individuals were summarily executed upon discovery of their hideous acts. Thankfully this seems to be a relatively rare thing, but all manner of macabre rumors and horror stories are in circulation and fill the pages of Nickle Dreadfuls and less reputable scandal sheets.

Since the end(?) of the War few specialists have the skills or knowledge to construct Zinn-prosthetics or to attach them to still-living human remains. Those few who do possess this specialized knowledge tend to be kept under close watch deep within the most heavily-guarded and fortified sections of the Imperial City or one of the major redoubts used by the High Kommand.

There are of course numerous rumors of undead Zinn Soldiers, but there has been no verifiable proof of their existence and the High Kommand strenuously denies that any such thing is even possible...

Zinn is an alloy (98% tin, 2% lead, antimony, and other elements including a trace amount of Green Powder used in the Plattnerizing process) that is highly resistant to acids, poisons, fungi, mold and to some extent even the milder forms of Black Smoke. The exact formulation of Zinn was classified as a state secret by the Pruztian High Chancellery and knowledge of the formula was strictly limited on a need-to-know basis for more than fifty years and zealously guarded by the descendants of the Baumhoffer family until some agent or agents unknown managed to steal the notebooks, records and original test samples from the Baumhoffer family vault. The Prustian Imperial Laboratories have never been able to successfully duplicate the original formula for Zinn, though they have come up with a number of other useful alloys and compounds.

Inspiration: The Tin Woodman of Oz by L. Frank Baum which is available at Project Gutenberg, Wikisource or at Open Library.

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