Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog info update

Hello everyone, I'd like to announce that we will be moving our blog intro onto our main webpage. This means that the blog here will no longer be updated. Please redirect your browsers to Chronicles of the Void main website to get updates about the game.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Entry: 00-029: Playable Class: Male Luxnaut Outlaw

Playable Class:Male Luxnaut Outlaw
by Wedge, Co-Creator

9) Male Luxnaut Outlaw

The Lauxnaut are a prolific alien race who have been a major influence in the Universe for many years.  They are an extremely family centric race, who share lifelong bonds with their immediate siblings largely due to their curiously imbalanced ratio of male to female offspring.  On average, male Lauxnauts outnumber females 16 to 1, and as a result Lauxnaut culture developed a system for ensuring the continuation of the family's genetic line by developing a fierce protective loyalty of brothers to their sisters. Brothers are so devoted to their sisters that most Lauxnaut males commit to a life of protection and service to their genetic sister.  In a society where female offspring are so prized, women are in constant threat of abduction and assassination and the Lauxnaut will go to great lengths to ensure the survival of their family's matriarch since the entire fate of a dynasty hangs in the balance of a single reproductive member. 

As a result, eons of evolution have developed Lauxnaut males into some of the most imposing and skilled bodyguards in the known Universe.  Lauxnaut brothers develop a strict hierarchy of authority amongst one another, and function with the precision of a crack military unit.  From birth Lauxnaut males are taught the craft of bodyguarding, the strategies for securing a structure, and the tactics of counter intelligence.  They live in a state of readiness, always prepared to execute one of many contingent plans.  They are excellent multitaskers, a trait which has won them renown as star ship pilots.  Physically Lauxnaut males are often referred to as "living barricades."  The average male stands 8' topping 900 lbs with a thick roughly humanoid frame. 

Their body is hairless, and their head is covered by a network of hardened plates which fit together like a jigsaw puzzle forming patterns along their cranium.
Female Lauxnaut's have a well earned reputation for being shrewd businesswomen, crafty negotiators, and ruthless in the protection of their family's interests.  More than that, they are the centerpiece of all Lauxnaut society, which is entirely matriarchal, and are involved in all political dealings.

This unusual relationship between Lauxnaut brothers and sisters has proved to be a highly successful model, and Lauxnaut families are often found in positions of power particularly in organized crime.  Gunrunning, extortion, and black market dealings are all too common professions among the Lauxnaut putting them at odds with many law enforcement agencies and reinforceing negative stereotypes of their people. 

Of course there are many exceptions to this rule and Lauxnaut are also highly prized and dependable bodyguards to other races.  Often contacts are made with aliens to extend them Lauxnaut protection in return for money or favors.  This has caused many prolific Lauxnaut dynasties to both grow in influence and renown, and has also forged powerful alliances between the Lauxnaut and other aliens, most notably the Aqasoo which are perhaps the Lauxnaut's single greatest ally.  In fact the Aqasoo and Lauxnaut are so close it is not uncommon to see Aqasoo VIPs with a detachment of permanent Lauxnaut male bodyguards, and there is a precedent for male Lauxnaut's swearing oaths of protection to Aqasoo females which are considered nearly on par with their own Lauxnaut females in terms of diplomatic savvy and political acumen.
You are a Male Lauxnaut Outlaw, pity anyone that stands in your way.

Game Play Overview:  Play as a dinosauric thug, equal parts master guardian, ace pilot, and experienced black marketeer.  You've seen the dark underbelly of society and you are not afraid to use unsavory methods to accomplish your goals and protect those that you name as your kin.  As a natural tank you will have the ability to take quite a punishing and ensure that the rest of your team makes it through each firefight alive.
Iconic Character: Oan Alizara-Taso (Male Lauxnaut Outlaw) Sworn as the personal bodyguard of Alizara Baylen he joined the Marshals of Ash upon her insistence and is the only member besides the Grimkin who does not share the visions of the Dreamer - making him a confederate and an outsider at once. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Entry: 00-028: Playable Classes: Human Varigator Prism and Escriman Seeker

Playable Classes: Human Varigator Prism and Escriman Seeker
by Wedge, Co-Creator

7) Human Varigator Prism

The rise of the Varigator soldiers can be traced back to the discovery of an unassuming invertebrate creature discovered on the planet Panklima Beta dubbed the Vertemora Leech.

Roughly two feet in length, less than an inch thick, and coated with thousands of fine hairlike bristles the Vertemora Leech creeps around like a overgrown centipede. It secretes a slick gelatinous substance as it travels across the ground which was found to have potent stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. Indeed the Vertemora Leeches were originally trafficked in illegal narcotics circles for the potent hallucinogenic properties of their secretions. Eventually a few overzealous junkies found that the Vertemora Leech could be coaxed to attaching itself directly to the spinal column of an individual giving them a permanent fix to the high they craved. This resulting express feed of the Leech's chemicals directly into the users blood stream is a supremely euphoric experience. In fact, it is more than that. The Vertemora Leech turned out to have the ability to actually integrate itself into their host's body, creating new organs in the host and radically changing their appearance.

Junkies who left the Vertemora Leeches attached for long enough began to report that they could see the electromagnetic waves that pass through all spectrum of light, and more remarkably they began to manipulate these same waves. The symbiotic relationship formed between the two creatures actually allowed the host to absorb, manipulate, and emit electromagnetic radiation at will. From these hopelessly addicted junkies the first Varigators were born.

The powerful Hexumvirate government were the first to see the possibilities in these Vertemora Leeches for what it truly was, and they exerted their considerable wealth and influence into annexing the planet Panklima Beta into their small yet elite empire. The Hexumvirate Royal Champions setup a extensive scientific research facility on the planet with the goal of creating viable Human-Vertemora Hybrids which could consciously use the powers granted by the leeches.

The project was code named: Varigator.

The process of hybridization with a Vertemora Leech is a very intense procedure that leaves many hosts crippled or dead. If the Vertemora Leech accepts the host, the two will hybridize and create a organism that is truly unique in the known universe. During first phase of hybridization, the Vertemora Leech attaches itself along the hosts central nervous system (CNS), most commonly along the spine in vertebrate subjects. It then inserts fine anchoring hooks into the host's skin, and through these hooks, neurons are threaded directly into the CNS of the host's body. During this phase the Vertemora Leech produces a large number of antibodies that identifies itself as a friendly organ, so the host's immune system does not attack the foreign tissue and ruin the hybridization procedure.

Once CNS fusion is complete, the Vertemora Leech begins the second phase of hybridization called metamorphosis. The Vertemora Leech begins to invade the ocular nerves of the host's eyes, and releases a set of tailored viruses that attach to the optical cells and transform them into organs that are able to sense the full spectrum of electromagnetic radiation from infrared to x-ray. This new input is fed directly into the hosts brain. Over the course of the next several months the host learns how to interpret these signals, and to perceive these new forms of visual stimuli. At the same time crystal focusing lenses are grown in the host's extremities. The location of the lens varies by species, but in Humanoid races the lens is found in the center palm of each hand. Concentrated beams of electromagnetic radiation can be channeled through these lenses, and manipulated with the heavy metal deposits which are placed in the host's fingers. The Varigators hands become their weapons and serve as their primary tools when expressing their power.

The third and final stage of hybridization is unification. The epidermis of the Vertemora Leech hardens, and forms bone like protective plates along its exposed exterior surfaces that serve to protect the Vertemora Leech from external trauma and also helps protect the hosts CNS in turn. A thin fiber like sheet begins to grow around the edges of the Vertemora Leech's hard shell. The sheet covers the host's epidermis with a second layer of skin which clings tightly to the host and is filled with light absorbing photo receptors which allow for the absorption of electromagnetic radiation mostly in the visible light spectrum. The entire surface of the host is covered by this sheath, which functions as a battery for absorbing and converting light into energy.

The Vertemora Leech has now completed hybridization and the Varigator is born.

Varigators are unique in that they have the capacity to observe all forms of electromagnetic radiation, and also control it. The Varigators are a new class of soldier which harness the power of the natural electromagnetic radiation around them and wield it with awesome destructive force. The energy absorbed through their skin turns them into living power plants, and the crystal focusing lenses in their hands allow them to manipulate electromagnetic radiation, twisting it to suit their needs. Producing light bending camouflage across the entire epidermis, creating magnetic bullet deflective shields, and reducing enemies to cinders with Gamma Rays are just a few of the many tools that Varigators are able to employ thanks to their hybridization with the Vertemora Leeches. Electricity, Magnetism, and Light are primal forces which are now bound to the will of a fully trained Varigator.

Elite Varigator units have formed in most major military organizations around the Universe. Individuals who are able to access all three avenues of a Varigators true potential (Light, Electricity, and Magnetism) are aggressively sought. These few are known as the Prism, and their legends have spread to the edges of the known Universe.

Game Play Overview: Varigator Prisms are masters of electromagnetic radiation granting them powers over electricity, light, and magnetism. Erect potent barriers to shield yourself from attack, tear apart enemies equipment, and distort your opponents perceptions allowing you to hide in broad daylight. Become an organic battery of destruction as you absorb the natural light in your environment and mold it to your will. However, these formidable abilities come at a cost. Your body generates so much static electricity as a byproduct of your powers that you are unable to use most high tech weapons and devices.

Iconic Character: Ambrose Cain IX (Male / Human Varigator Prism) Former Varigator and Prism Commander in the Hexumvirate Royal Champions Ambrose is a ninth generation clone with aristocratic sensibilities despite his fall from prominence due to his brother Hock's treasonous actions. Ambrose is nevertheless a loyal Marshal of Ash.

8) Escriman Seeker

Haling from the lush world of Arnis, Escrimans are jealous caretakers of their home world which boasts over 2.3 billion unique species of plants and animals. Escrimans are physiologically the most similar known alien race to humans, which has sparked a number of debates about the possible parallel evolution of the two species. Geneticists claim that the two races exist somewhere in the grey area of speciation, largely reproductively isolated with the exceedingly rare hybrid produced. Escrimans are on average shorter than humans standing between 4 to 5 ½ feet tall. They have skin tones similar to humans, with a broad spectrum of hair colors, and solid red eyes that fluctuate based on mood: orange when calm, pink when embarrassed, dark red when sad, bright glowing red when upset or angry. Their tails, ears, and feet are similar to that of a spider monkey although they have a natural fluidity and grace that surpasses any monkey species ever recorded. Thanks to their uniquely omni-directional joints and colossal carbon tube muscles they are magnificent specimens with incredible muscle definition possessing a speed and agility untouched by any other alien race.

Escrimans are an ancient race who explored the stars for eons watching countless alien civilizations the likes of which would now be completely forgotten were it not for the Escirmans strong oral history whose age is rivaled only by the Agasoo and Vin-Jin. Despite the great success of their culture they did not follow a path of rapid technological reliance and advancement that is so common to races influenced by Humanity's colonization. Indeed Escrimans believe that no technology can surpass the capabilities of a well honed body. To this end, all technology they use only seeks to enhance their existing natural abilities. Elegance and utility are the defining principles of Escriman design as evidenced by their unique double sided portable personnel shields, as well as a wide variety of transforming melee weapons such as the telescopic extending panabas and the boomerang kukri. A strong martial culture is rooted in Escriman society, and they have enjoyed continued success in warfare despite their almost complete reliance on melee weaponry and focus on person to person combat. This is thanks in no small part to the fact that Escrimans did not undergo the "civilizing" of genes that humans did - where more wealth and conveniences lead to flabbier bodies and dulled senses. Beauty in Escriman culture is tied directly to fitness of survival. Individuals with defects and otherwise debilitating traits are not able to attract mates and end up falling out of the gene pool. As a result Escrimans have developed traits that other races must use cybernetic implants to achieve. Their senses are so sharp that humans often describe them as having a 6th sense. Escrimans are able to process a wide variety of sensory data so quickly that they leap to instinctual conclusions far before the more cognitive and deliberate human brains do.

Such a competitive culture has bred some interesting partices, perhaps most notably is a tradition known simply as The Seek. A Seeker is an individual in Escriman society that has been singled out for greatness by the patterns which emerge from a small marking each Escriman is born with, much like a dark tattoo, that is referred to as a blaze. The shape and location of the blaze is believed to hold a prophecy for their life. As an Escriman grows the blaze spreads, leaving the elderly almost entirely covered from head to toe. The study of Escriman blazing is a lifelong endeavor and a great deal of attention is paid to the blaze pattern of an adolescent Escriman who grow up in traditional societies. Only a rare few Seekers come along in a generation, but those that do are almost unanimously bound for a life of notoriety. A Seeker follows a path that is incomprehensible to those around them, but their vision and purpose drive them to accomplish extraordinary feats.

It was an Escriman Seeker who made first contact with the Lurkers of the Deep and returned to give form to their legend.

It was an Escriman Seeker who discovered the only known source of Dark Sun Carbon.

It was an Escriman Seeker who defeated the last Banx Warlord in single combat dealing a crippling blow to their devastating crusade across the Quirr Galaxy.

You are an Escriman Seeker, what will be your legacy?

Game Play Overview: Enjoy the highest coordination score in the game with supreme mobility and an array of specialized melee weapons that allow you to compete with the widely ranged-centric battlefield. You will confound foes who are unable to keep up with your dizzying pace as you cleave a path through your enemies. However your supreme agility comes at the cost of low armor values and a small pool of hit points, making you at once deadly and delicate.

Iconic Character: Mata Inasanto (Female / Escriman Seeker) A free spirited thrill seeking young Escriman woman who is a skilled hunter and beast handler eager to explore the Universe Mata embraces her role as a Marshal of Ash since it keeps her in a steady supply of new experiences.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Entry: 00-027 Character Diversity in CotV

 Character Diversity in CotV
Co-Creator, Doug Bush

Sometimes it can be a challenge to think of how to create truly unique and diverse characters when playing in a Sci-Fi setting for the first time. This becomes even harder when the setting is new to the player and they are not yet familiar with its workings and nuances. Not to worry my friend, the pen and paper RPG scene is full of creative folks and to get your creative brain juices flowing let’s take a look at some ways you could take the Geno-Perfect Human Javelin Pilot and create some diverse character concepts.

The Supporter: Not just as a professional athlete but as a Human you owe everything to the Life Corporation. This pharmaceutical group was responsible for your genetic creation and up bringing. Because of that you are an avid supporter and activist for the creation of geno-perfect humans and the necessity of them for the continued advancement of humanity. Dominating the rugged sport of Migrathon has brought you fame and fortune but now the Life Corporation needs you take even greater risks stopping truly evil forces and showing the rest of the universe the power of a geno-perfect human.

The Rebel: You’re a mistake and you know it. You despise the Life Corporation and the fact they grew you in a vat only to raise and use you as a promotional item. After competing and gaining a small measure of success in Migrathon you decide there are better uses for your prized javelin mech suit. Splintering off into hiding you plan and execute hit and run type operations against Life and any other corporation that specialize in the unnatural form of human creation.

The Thrill Seeker: There is no other feeling quite like piloting your javelin mech suite with extreme precision over unsafe terrain through the territory of 17 ton Omega level beasts during mating season! After years of dominating the Migrathon circuit the money, fame and adventure it has all become monotonous. Seeking even greater challenges you retire early and go rogue using your resources and connections to begin a new life of adventures off the grid. A life not bound by any rules or regulations but one of high risk and high reward! Banding up with a group of like minded individuals you set off in search of whatever challenges the universe has in mind for you and your trusty Javelin.  

No place to go but up: Not everyone handles fame well. After becoming addicted to “Angel Seeds” you began to stumble down a two year spiral of losing it all. After the horrible Migrathon accident that left your Javelin mech suit in rubble and you nearly dead the Life Corporation pulled all funding and support leaving you alone, broke and scared. Desperate you called in what favors you could to get a new Javelin suit but now you are forced to perform odd jobs to repay your “friends” to make ends meet.

These are just some quick ideas to get you started and hopefully you’ll share how you would run a GPH Javelin Pilot on the CotV forums!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Entry: 00-026: Playable Classes: Carapen Xenosociator and Unclassified Clandestine Investigator

Playable Classes: Carapen Xenosociator and Unclassified Clandestine Investigator
by Wedge, Co-Creator

This is the third post in a regular update series which will reveal all 10 playable Iconic Character Templates (or classes) that will be available in Chronicles of the Void. Each one includes a bit of CotV fiction to set the stage for the origins of the class, a Game Play Overview section to get an idea of how each might be played, and finally a short blurb about our Iconic CotV Character which the class is based off of.

Today we explore a couple of CotV's hybrid classes, generalists with broad skill sets who have the ability to fill several different roles on a team. I present you with the Carapen Xenosociator and the Unclassified Clandestine Investigator.

5) Carapen Xenosociator

The Carapen are an alien race recently discovered by humanity on the planet Eucro. The Carapen have taken complete ecological control over Eucro and have emerged as the dominant life form on this oxygen rich class A planet. The human explorers who made first contact found that Carapen organized into colonies. All Carapen colonies construct elaborate hives that resemble fortresses which are composed of vast labyrinths of tunnels and chambers. Carapen colonies can be further broken down into castes that all perform specialized roles. Their societies are organized eusocially around a reproductive caste supported by an array of highly specialized sterile castes that compose a single colony. What the human explorers found most notable about the Carapen however was a vast organically constructed data storage network referred to as The Spool.

The Spool is a massive data storage complex located in a secure chamber deep within each colony's hive. The Spool is composed of a multitude of tightly wound coils of a thin silk-like threads which are excreted from all Carapen. Carapen regularly create a thread of this silky substance which they tie into tiny knots and loops using specialized appendages, and then add their newest thread to the greater Spool. The knots, loops and coils of each thread form a code, a written language, that the Carapen use to report any new information they have learned in their daily activities. Much of these threads are ordinary information about crop yields, hunting success, or intruders dispatched, but all is categorized and stored in the greater Spool for processing. This is where the Librarians step in. The Librarians are a caste of Carapen whose job is to maintain the Spool, which includes repairing broken threads as well as replicating data from the master Spool to other smaller backup Spools located in various secure locations inside the colony's territory. More interestingly however is the Librarian's task of reading and interpreting all the information stored in the Spool. Without a central intelligence or hierarchy of command inside the Carapen colony, all individuals act on caste instinct, and the librarian's instinct is to read and execute the instructions stored in the Spool. If less Soldiers are adding threads to the Spool than usual, then the Librarians interpret a negative feedback loop which prompts them to tend the undeveloped larvae and nurse them under the conditions which make more Soldiers. This process of growing new caste members factors into the other remarkable thing about Carapen which is their extensive genetic engineering power.

The Spool contains all data regarding the creation and subsequent success of all genetic modifications to a colony's caste members. This incredible library of genetic data makes them masters of their own genome and able to perform amazing acts of creation without the use of any tools or laboratories. If Librarians notice a drop in Soldier thread reports, and read threads about a new airborne enemy which uses sharp claws to pry open Carapen segments to destroy their soft innards, they might conclude the need to hatch more soldiers. Furthermore they may add genetic modifications to these new soldiers allowing them to fly and/or possibly create fused thoraxes which have no segments for the enemy can gain purchase on. All of the knowledge on how to create this type of offspring though is not held by any individual, but rather is encoded in the vast array of coiled threads that compose the Spool, open for any Librarian to interpret, experiment with, and catalog the results.

The newest Carapen creation is a caste known as the Xenosociators. Created in response to first contact with Humanity, they were created largely in the image of Man, with an individualistic streak uncommon to other Carapen castes. The Xenosociators can communicate in the basic human language and have the capacity to both learn about human society and also teach humans about the Carapen. As a planet bound race, the Carapen designed the Xenosociators to assimilate the advanced concepts of space travel including advanced physics and mathematics. To this end Xenosociators gather everything, regarding no information is insignificant. They are empowered to learn and adapt to their surroundings in a way unique to most other Carapen castes. Having been granted conscious control over their own genome's expression, a Xenosociator can enter a cocoon state at will, reorganize their body to match the challenges they encounter, and emerge as a newly modified creature.

You are a Carapen Xenosociator.

Game Play Overview: Biologically morph your body to grow weapons, armor, and new abilities making you the most adaptable character in the game. Fill virtually any role in a party stepping into a new role if your team has lost a member, or just to try something different.

Iconic Character: Numi (Carapen Xenosociator) - Exceptionally curious and inquisitive Numi follows the Marshal's of Ash as half warrior half chronicler part of a sterile Xenosociator caste of the eusocial Carapens "he" explores the stars studying the societies and technologies of other races to ensure the progress of his own.

6) Unclassified Clandestine Investigator

You are the only known member of an unclassified alien race.

You've never found another individual that could be identified as your race, nor have you found any being that can give proof that they have seen any of your ancestors. You don't even know your people's name. Isolated both physically and emotionally from all beings that surround you - you are alone in the Universe.

Enigmatic and unknowable your moral compass is unpredictable having no set of common values to ground yourself with and little in common with the beings that surround you. Instead you choose to build your foundation on mathematics, causality, and logic.

Yet your weakness is also your greatest strength giving you one of a kind talents that make you both attractive and powerful. Absolute cultural detachment from all other races in the Universe makes you take nothing for granted and enhances your faculty for deductive reasoning. You've cultivated a keen eye for observation and a photographic memory allowing you to store and analyze what most would see as trivial information. In an age where there is an almost crippling reliance on full integration with the Neuro Labyrinth cyber network to access information you are able to make insightful deductions from the seemingly insignificant details that surround you in everyday life.

As a result you've employed yourself in various capacities as a private detective and a spy. You have a knack for figuring people out, understanding their motivations, and solving cryptic riddles. Perhaps it is your detachment from the greater Universal society has gives you a kind of supreme objectivity, which allows you to dispassionately analyze facts in a sophisticated way. Perhaps your desperation gives your work a passion and focus unparalleled by average people. Perhaps your unknown past holds the explanation for these gifts. Regardless, you have an instinctive ability learn new skills in a fraction of the time of other beings, and have developed a broad area of expertise.

However your formidable investigative skills have thus far failed to yield a solution to your most nagging question of all: where do you come from and what has happened to your people? The irony of being able to readily solve other people's problems while being befuddled by your own is not lost on you.

Game Play Overview: Part spy, detective, and assassin the Unclassifed Clandestine Investigator is a hybrid class combining long ranged combat options, close combat expertise, and advanced problem solving capabilities. A balanced class with a solution to any problem you encounter. Play a character that is truly unique in the Universe, inventing their own moral code, values, and traditions.

Iconic Character: Daxim (Male / Alien) - Roaming Private Detective whose keen perception and insight find solutions to his client's problems he is often cryptic and stands apart from the other Marshals while searching the Universe for his lost people.

Entry: 00-025: The Ever Evolving Osteomorph

This is an entry for one of the beasts you may run into during your adventures in the CotV Universe. It is illustrated by the creature design master David Melvin and written by the very talented Ryan Costello Jr. of 3.5 Private Sanctuary fame. It will be included in the CotV Core Rulebook with full stats but this is a preview to whet your appetite.

The Osteomorph

Dedicated xenobiologists spend their lives analyzing lethal beasts for categorization, at once looking to influence the world through greater understanding and hoping to make their mark in history. A point of contention popularly debated amongst established xenobiologists is the nature of the Osteomorph. Is it a symbiotic creature born from within another? Is it one distinct creature developing through a prolonged animated chrysalis? All acquired knowledge confirms both theories equally, exciting learned aristocrats and baffling the game hunters who just want to know how to kill the hulking beasts.

The Osteomorph, or strigilis venaticus, hatches as a baiter slug. Baby baiter slugs often crack their egg tooth at birth on the hard shell and either cannot escape and starve or cannot defend themselves and become a predator’s treat. This tubular single-muscle creature secretes a potent slime that attracts predators. Predators follow the trail expecting a fine meal. Indeed, so succulent is this secretion, it is used to flavour red meat in the finest restaurants across the Universe. However, the baiter slug has a second gland which coats its fangs in an atrophying poison. One bite and the limb of the baiter slug’s victim swells until articulation is completely lost. Combined with the baiter slug’s powerful jaw, measured to have the crushing power of a mechadozer’s compactor vice, atrophied limbs are ripped off and snacked upon. In this stage, an Osteomorph digests one hundred pounds of meat a week, mostly in the form of stolen limbs. During digestion, it manipulates any bones it has eaten into a functioning skeletal structure, locking the disconnected bones together through a series of muscular contractions and mucus filament. When there is no longer room within the Osteomorph’s body, fragments force their way through the skin. Scabbing coats any protruding bones, eventually forming an approximate skeleton that signifies the start of the second stage of the Osteomorph’s development, the venaticus erectus, sometimes called the walking chrysalis (below).

This is the Osteomorph at its most recognizable. Although its body is shaped by its diet, a walking chrysalis Osteomorph is identified by massive musculature, asymmetrical limbs in a generally humanoid composition, bone protrusions, and a barrel neck that still resembles its baiter slug origins. Despite the piecemeal construction of its skeleton, a walking chrysalis’ bones, teeth, and claws are as dense as steel and reportedly can puncture almost anything they want.

In the walking chrysalis stage, the Osteomorph is particularly defensive. Jagged bone fragments make closing with the creature difficult, and its bite is more powerful than the baiter slug stage by tenfold. The best approach is to attack it from range, however its anatomy is so complex that rounds of ammunition are wasted determining how to target its vitals. Despite the resources required to take down a walking chrysalis, few pass on killing one if the opportunity presents itself.

The walking chrysalis stage lasts for years as the Osteomorph takes in the necessary nutrients. Its diet broadens in this stage of development, able to digest minerals, particularly metal. Consumed minerals are added to its skeletal structure in much the same way bones were added during the baiter slug stage. Occasionally an Osteomorph who eats a sufficient amount of technology during the walking chrysalis stage develops a techno-organic nerve system capable of integrating basic computer systems it digests. These Techno-Osteomorphs are highly sought after by developers and researchers.

The walking chrysalis hibernates for six months, its skin hardening before falling off and giving birth to a Monarch Osteomorph. An Osteomorph in the monarch stage (in both technical and rudimentary parlance) is nearly impossible to identify. All Monarch Osteomorphs are large beasts that possess an exoskeleton and act aggressively. Otherwise, each is unique in shape and abilities depending on their diet during the first two stages of development. Their bodies range from serpentine to centipedal. Some fly, some burrow, some race across continents. One brave xenobiologist captured an entire Osteomorph hibernation on time lapse only to find the monarch come forth as a thousand draconic insects. The discovery shattered conventional knowledge and two full years were spent verifying the video’s authenticity. The video inspired endless debate on the nature of known Osteomorphic lifecycles. Some went so far as to speculate that the first two stages of the Osteomorph’s existence could be responsible for the evolution of all beasts in the known Universe. Another debate that does nothing for the hunters with an Osteomorph is their sights.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Entry: 00-024: Beta Rules

Beta Rules
by Wedge, Co-Creator

The long weekend gave us a chance to catch up on some long overdue CotV work and we are pleased to bring you our CotV Beta Rules PDF! It should be a great primer for anyone who is familiar with tabletop gaming and who is interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of one of CotV's major game systems: One Breath Combat.

We were also able to whip up a quick video to give you an idea of what a single round of the One Breath Combat looks like in action.

Feel free to send us your feedback or visit the Chronicles of the Void Forum to discuss your thoughts.

I hope you enjoyed it, upper cuts and all.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Entry: 00-023: Playable Classes: Geno-Perfect Human Javelin Pilot & the Grimkin Swarm

Geno Perfect Human Javelin Pilot and the Grimkin Swarm
by Wedge, Co-Creator

This is the second post in a regular update series which will reveal all 10 playable Iconic Character Templates (or classes) that will be available in Chronicles of the Void. Each one includes a bit of CotV fiction to set the stage for the origins of the class, a Game Play Overview section to get an idea of how each might be played, and finally a short blurb about our Iconic CotV Character which the class is based off of.

Today we feature our two classes which have the ability to pilot heavily armed mechanized suits into battle, I gave you the Geno-Perfect Human Javelin Pilot and the Grimkin Swarm.

3) Geno-Perfect Human Javelin Pilot

Geno-Perfect are a new generation of children born into the custody of a corporation. Conceived in a fertility laboratory from the combination of 647 unique genes sampled from some of the most exceptional individuals in history. Raised by a staff of expert caretakers and are given the highest level of education and serve as representations of the pinnacle of human evolution exalting the feats which science has allowed us to ascend.

Geno-Perfect humans have a staggering genetic resume including ambidexterity, short sleeper, an eidetic memory, supertaster, and absolute pitch among many others. In addition, they are the first humans which are able to physiologically compete in Migrathon.

Officially Migrathon is described as a 5 day, non-stop 5,000 mile run across some of the most dangerous and savage terrain in the universe, players (or Javelin as they are popularly called) are ranked in the order that they finish the course. Each course is meticulously chosen and plotted ahead of time to take the Javelins through inhospitable environments, deadly local fauna, and unpredictable weather. Each Javelin wears a fusion powered mechanical suit that prescribes to MORA (Migrathon Offical Ruling Authority) guidelines and is additionally allowed one projectile rifle with 3 cartridges, one plasma handgun with a 5 Megawatt charge, and one retractable uni-gauntlet oscillating nano-blade. Each Javelin begins the course 1 mile apart but they ultimately converge on a finish line is a 100 foot arch at the end of the course. Along the way each Javelin has 4 waypoints that they must reach that are plotted by satellite and transmitted to each Javelin's topographical interface, in order to mathematically ensure that each Javelin must cross the same total distance to reach the finish line. Direct contact between Javelins is forbidden on the course (no touching or firing upon opponents), but indirect action that effects other players is permitted.

Unofficially a Migrathon is one of the most unpredictable, cutthroat, and deadly games in the civilized universe. Last season, there was a fatality rate of 14.4% among Javelin players, with causes ranging from cardiac failure to sabotage to decapitation by the Greater Ibaquin of Malcor who has claimed the lives of no less than 4 Javelin players while crossing through their traditional mating grounds when the course was first introduced during last year's quarter final elimination tournament. Javelin players are tested mentally, physically, morally, and tactically at all times when on the course and quite literally only the strongest survive.

You are a Geno-Perfect Human Javelin Pilot.

Game Play Overview: As a Geno-Perfect Human you have access to a wide array of specilized skills representing the best of what Humanity has to offer including ambidexterity, short sleeper, an eidetic memory, supertaster, absolute pitch and many more. As a Javelin Pilot you will oversee the battlefield in your highly armored and heavily armed mechanized Javelin suit. You are the most sturdy character in the game with massive weapons only weldable by mechanized suits, but your size and power comes at a penalty to coordination forcing you to act less frequently then all other characters.

Iconic Character: Kinaso Life (female Human) Confident, determined, and resourceful Kinaso is a human Geno-Perfect child raised by the Life Corporation famous across the Universe as the top Migrathon athlete piloting the heavily armored mechanized javelin suit Silver Needle before she became a Marshal of Ash.

4) Grimkin Swarm

The Grimkin are originally from the planet Renoyl where the top of the food chain is dominated by massive predators on the scale of the dinosaurs from ancient Earth. On such a competitive world the evolutionary strategy the Grimkin took for survival was to stay small and unnoticed by the bigger animals. Measuring only 4'' to 6’’ tall at full height they flutter about on insect like wings. The Grimkin go unnoticed by the massive predators on their home world and they live in tight family swarms which typically range from 15 to 50 individuals. A Grimkin swarm is always together as they are inherently social animals that despise solitude.

While Grimkin swarms appear to maintain a type of shared consciousness, they are in fact still a collection of individuals all with their own personalities, needs, and desires that operate in extremely close coordination. However, the survival skills of an individual Grimkin which is separated from their swarm are drastically reduced, and a single swarm exhibits behavior which is greater than the sum of its parts. The Grimkin are particularly adept problem solvers, able to attack a puzzle with many pairs of hands and minds working together to complete a task that often results in surprisingly effective results. While they rarely ever choose the correct solution on their first try, the Grimkin are extremely persistent and will exhaust every possible option in a brute force kind of strategy to solving any complex problem.

When the first explorers came to the planet Renoyl and performed their survey of the local fauna and flora, the Grimkin were not recognized as a sentient race, but rather as a kind of vermin that found a way to infest the surveyor’s spacecraft and were unintentionally and unknowingly transported off world. Since then, the Grimkin have spread to nearly every habitable zone across the known universe showing alarming adaptability. Wherever they go, they assimilate local languages and customs leading to a high degree of variability between Grimkin swarms across various regions. Their colonization is so uniform that it is difficult to find any civilized habitat without them.

The Grimkin are garbologists and have developed a knack for fixing broken devices by cobbling together their own contraptions using the materials on hand. Unfortunately for everyone else the Grimkin enjoy fixing things so much that they often run out of broken devices to fix and start dismantling various operational systems in order to "improve" them leading to dubious results more often than not.

Perhaps one of the Grimkin most troubling adaptations to the modern society is their construction of human sized mechanized suits which are generally referred to as Techni-Behemoths. Many cite the massively popular and brutal sport Miagrathon as the culprit behind the Grimkin's obsession with building these monstrosities. Regardless, nearly every swarm ends up building their own custom Techni-Behemoth, complete with enough hatches, turrets, consoles, and even a fully functional command bridge allowing the entire swarm to ride around in a heavily armed mechanical golem wreaking havoc among the other larger creatures.

By nature Grimkin are capricious and unpredictable. They are stubborn and while they work very well with each other, they require enticement to work with other creatures. Gifts, services and IOUs are the currency of the Grimkin , although many individuals find that they come out on the raw end of any deals made with the Grimkin, which has led to the common universal slang describing a no win situation or a poor bargain as a “Grimkin Deal”.

Game Play Overview: Challenging and unique role playing opportunities as you play as a swarm of small flying aliens that act, think, and eat as one. These little guys are some of the Universe's most creative innovators and use that talent to build “human sized” mechanized suits called Techni-Behemoths that they pilot into battle. They couple high armor and powerful weaponry when piloting their Techni-Behimoth with extreme vulnerability if ever caught in dangerous situations outside of their suit where they are easily picked off.

Iconic Character: Gups (Grimkin Swarm) - Skilled inventors and engineers this family of Grimkin is composed of 20 individuals that share a collective intelligence and an affinity for practical jokes while serving as honorary Marshals of Ash ever since they made their home aboard the starship Overwatch.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Entry: 00-022: Playable Classes: Prime Arbiter & Aqasoo Latent Nova Psionic

Playable Classes: Prime Arbiter & Aqasoo Latent Nova Psionic

by: Wedge Smith, Co-Creator

This is the first post in a regular update series which will reveal all 10 playable Iconic Character Templates (or classes) that will be available in Chronicles of the Void. Each one includes a bit of CotV fiction to set the stage for the origins of the class, a Game Play Overview section to get an idea of how each might be played, and finally a short blurb about our Iconic CotV Character which the class is based off of. So without further preamble I give you the Prime Arbiter and the Aqasoo Latent Nova Psionic.

1) Prime Arbiter

Nearly 400 years ago the Trans Solar Unified Protectorate (TSUP) discovered the planet 71099-Vorenas on a routine drone scouting mission. Included in the drone's report alongside descriptions of the planet's extremely irregular orbit, violent sandstorms, and volatile tectonic activity was a geological mineral analysis that indicated planet 71099-Vorenas to have 357 million tons of raw Multonium. At this time of the discovery this amount of Multonium represented approximately 77.239% of all Multonium in the known Universe.

What followed was a gold rush fever, with mining operations as small as single freighter teams up to Multi-Galactic Corporations all scrambling to collect the fortune. Unfortunately for many, 71099-Vorenas, or M-Rock as it became called, was an uncommonly inhospitable planet that resisted all attempts to establish even rudimentary settlements. The poisonous atmosphere was so lethal that it killed any exposed living creature in seconds. The frequent sandstorms moving at supersonic velocities tore through even hardened bunkers and the highly erratic tectonic movement prevented any kind of subterranean colonies from taking root. In short M-Rock was nearly a perfect storm. The mortality rate for miners in the first year was 93%. To make matters worse, a large portion of fatalities were to non-ecological sources: booby traps set by other miners, sabotage of life support units, and outright banditry were commonplace. Most would be miners turned around and went home, or perished. Only a handful of the wealthiest miners were left 3 years after the initial discovery, but even for them, the cost of human and non-human resources lost in extraction of the Multonium was too high.

As a result, the TSUP launched a massive robotic drone development project that brought together the best AI scientists that money could buy. Within 3 years the mining drone project had created a series of highly adaptable robots which were designed to withstand the planet's harsh environment and who possessed complex solution matrix algorithms for problem solving since contact with the ground from orbit was unreliable in the best of times. The drones were launched to the planet from orbit, and were programmed to stockpile their mined Multonium in specific caches around the planet where transport ships would regularly rendezvous to collect the payload. The mining drones exceeded everyone's expectations within the first 6 months of their deployment, but they were not alone. A parallel drone mining project funded by the Abyss Corporation also launched a series of robotic mining drones only 4 months after the TSUP project went live, and the results were catastrophic. Details about the events that occurred on the planet M-Rock during this period are unacceptably few since the robotic mining drones were unable to communicate regularly with the orbital ships due to extreme solar radiation. But security footage from the transport ships that hauled the Multonium off planet confirm that in addition to their normal cargo, decapitated heads of rival mining robots were often found piled next to each shipment. Over the next two years a sort of arms race developed between TSUP and Abyss, as new drones were developed outfitted with military armaments and their AI was upgraded with guerrilla warfare tactics. Multonium shipments slacked, and the robotic body count reached incredible levels.

Then inexplicably one day, all contact with the mining droids on both sides suddenly ceased. The subsequent transport ships reached the Multonium rendezvous site and there were no more severed robot heads, just towering stacks of purified Multonium. From this day forward, the Multonium payload for each pickup site remained precisely the same. Any new drones sent to the planet abruptly cut off transmissions to their mother ships within minutes of making landfall, and no communication with the mining drones was re-established. While both TSUP and Abyss were curious about the change in behavior on the planet, they were both making profits hand over fist, and no further action on their part seemed necessary to maintain this profitable enterprise. The scientists and high level executives gradually shipped off to other exiting projects, and a minimal facility was left in orbit to continue to extract and ship the Multonium.

After nearly 200 years, the first report of an unregistered transport ship left the atmosphere of the planet M-Rock and disappeared in a flash as it entered a worm-hole space jump. The small orbital TSUP shipping facility logged the event but otherwise, business continued as usual. Twenty Seven days later, two additional ships emerged from the planet, one establishing a stable orbit around the planet and another which winked off into another worm-hole. The orbiting vessel's schematics matched no known model and it immediately began to release satellites around the planet. The TSUP crew watched as the unidentified ship docked with their space station, and from the airlock emerged robots the likes of which they have never seen before.

They identified themselves as the Prime Sovereign Robotic Nation, and demanded to be recognized as a free nation. These Prime robots launched Arbiters across the Universe to spread their culture and influence.

You are such an Arbiter.

Uniquely constructed your body is more a platform for a base of operations than a single unit. Prime Arbiters have a wide variety of specialized remote drones which dock on their body but are capable of performing directed independent action. Surveillance, munitions, assassination, and heavy weapons are just a few of the many drones in the arsenal of the Prime Arbiter.

Game Play Overview: Very resilient and adaptable the Prime Arbiter has the ability to use drones that dock on its body. High HP and armor make them very potent front line fighters with extensive customization by building new components directly into their chassis. The Prime Arbiter is also a skilled diplomat, with extensive knowledge of negotiation tactics.

Iconic Character: Dust (Prime Robot) Founding member of a race of highly intelligent robotic beings known as Prime he was an influential ambassador turned outlaw who has taken to the Marshals of Ash as his adopted family in exile, seeing himself as a self styled elder patriarch.

2) Aqasoo Latent Nova Psionic

The Aqasoo are an alien race which originated as amphibious humanoids but have since left the tidal pools and spend the majority of their lives on land. Physically all Aqasoo have vibrant chameleonic skin and hair that can shift colors and patterns at will. They also all share a long thin fin that runs the length of their spinal column and terminates at the buttock in a short flat tail. In addition, the Aqasoo have a unique ability to connect their highly evolved immune system with another individual, to rapidly help heal wounds or fight off infection. When healing, the Aqasoo harmonize with the patient's body by matching their skin tone and texture, and lay their hands on the point of injury or upon the patient's vital nodes. A small flat flap of skin in the hand is pushed open by increased blood pressure where a proboscis emerges. The probe has a cylindrical shape with many radiating vessels that allows them to make contact with another organism, latch on, and begin to feed defensive antibodies into the target organism and engorge the wounded site with blood to promote fast healing. This state is extremely taxing for both subjects and rest is often required after extended periods of healing.

Culturally the Aqasoo are an ancient race, that trace their origins far back before that of Humans. Over that time, they have evolved one of the most powerful genetic lines of Psionic warriors the Universe has ever known called Nova. They were regarded across the Universe as the highest form of mental warriors, able to shape the world around them with the awesome power of their minds.

Many respected and feared their prowess, and it is widely believed that one of the principle reasons that the Aqasoo were targeted first by the Banx Crusade was to wipe them off the battlefield quickly and decisively. Indeed the SERK, who fought with the Banx, designed entire armies with the single purpose of hunting down and destroying every living Nova psionic. Unfortunately for the Aqasoo and the rest of the civilized Universe, the SERK were exceedingly efficient, and the ensuing genocide exterminated Nova to the very last member.

Every member, except you.

The Nova psionic psyche is so sophisticated that even the most advanced technology is unable to detect or explain it with complete accuracy. It seems that Nova somehow perceived its imminent defeat and began to shut down its own expression, laying dormant in certain sleeper individuals, waiting for the right time to re-emerge. While Nova lives in secret, it also jealously guards its few remaining hosts. When Latent Nova Psionics undergo periods of extreme bodily or mental stress, the Nova psyche will take over, and the effects are terrible to behold.

Game Play Overview: The Aqasoo Latent Nova Psionic has the abilities to naturally heal others and is the most fluid and graceful of all the characters thanks for their race's genetics and the anti-gravity hover boots which are commonplace among Aqasoo. Generally they are lightly armored, and skilled with the Aqasoo Razor Wire, pistols and various other advanced weapons. They also express a special berserk type mode of play. When the character reaches their last wound track they gain the full power of a Nova Psionic and become a one person wrecking crew until they finally fall unconscious.

Iconic Character: Alizara Baylen (Female / Alien) Charismatic Aqasoo woman who hopes to rebuild her species' society after it was brutally ravaged during the Banx Crusade, she is deeply invested in the grand goal of the Marshals of Ash and sees herself as its matriarch. She discovered her Latent Nova Psionic powers in adulthood when her life was threatened by raiders. Now she not only carries the burden of finding a new home for her scattered people but also holds the key to the rebuilding of their heritage with the Nova psyche hidden within her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Entry: 00-021: Armor

by Doug, Co-Creator 

 We have had a killer first week with the Kickstarter project and just want to thank everyone that has donated so far! At the current rate we will reach our goal so please don't hesitate if you or a friend want to help out and get some cool stuff for it. We have also updated the marketing pamphlet to explain more about character creation and game mechanics so give that a read if your interested.

 Now lets talk armor. Armor is an important part of survival in any RPG and lets look at some of the things armor will do for you in CotV. One of the most important things armor does for you is that it adds to your characters natural vitality to give you your total HP. In most cases (unless you are a specialized alien)  the majority of your HP comes from your armor, however the larger suits of armor that provide more protection also effect how coordinated a character can be meaning that heavily armored characters don't act as often as lightly armored characters. Armor also provides your natural protection from status effects such as, fire, disorientation, and becoming staggered.
Each suit of armor comes with a set amount of Upgrade Slots (US). We offer a plethora of different upgrades to purchase allowing you to completely customize each suit of armor with items like kinetic shielding, indirect marking lasers, boot thrusters, hidden missiles and even bionic grapplers! This means multiple players could own the same set of armor but they all perform differently depending on each players chosen upgrades! This is just one of the many ways you can customize your character like no other in the CotV universe.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Entry: 00-020: We survived A-Kon! (barely)

By, Doug Co-Creator
 Wow. A-Kon was awesome! Lot's of nice people (sometimes wearing things they probably shouldn't) and a packed gaming room that included Chronicles of the Void! We have put a ton of work lately into the spine (mechanics) of the game and it's really paying off. Not only did we have a full table but everyone had a blast and the combat felt great! We've included a momentum dice mechanic that everyone is loving but more on that latter. For now take a look at some pics from the kon.....

As you can see the early morning train ride paid off for a fun day of gaming! A big thanks to everyone that checked out the demo today and we hope to see you all at our next stop...Gen Con!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Entry: 00-019: Kickstarter Engaged!

Visit the site, check out the rewards, and donate the amount thats right for you. Please help us reach our $9,000 goal!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Entry: 00-018: CotV Pamphlet

by Wedge, Co-Creator

So we've finished our CotV Pamphlet and we handed out a stack of them at Reaper Con today - which was totally awesome by the way.

In case anyone missed it, I've uploaded the file to the website so you can give it a read: here. Currently this document is one of the best ways to get a primer for the work we've done on CotV and hopefully wet your appetites for joining one of our upcoming game sessions at Akon and Gen-Con this year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Entry: 00-017: CotV Theme Song

by Doug Co-Creator

Being a professional musician I have had a theme for CotV brewing in my skull for awhile now and it feels great to not only finish it but to also share it with all of you! I wanted to write something that felt very Sci Fi through the use of sounds and textures yet was powered by more modern and innovative percussion writing. I'll let the music speak for it's self but I will say that it is my goal to compose an entire sound track for CotV. The kind of thing you can listen to while gaming to help create a proper ambiance for our brand of Sci Fi.

With all that said, crank those speakers to 11 and prepare to rock out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Entry: 00-016: Many are the Threads

by Wedge, Co-Creator

We've currently got several irons in the fire which are all in various states of progress but not quite the requisite glowing-orange-hot that signifies they are ready to release. So I'll talk a a little about each one to let you know what the CotV team has been up to lately.

CotV Original Theme Music
: Doug and Patricia have been hard at work in the studio hammering out a sweet theme song for CotV. Anything I could say about it will not do it justice, but I'm sure Doug will have it finished shortly and I think the music will speak for itself.

Marketing Video
: We are also working on a marketing video for CotV which will also feature the CotV original theme music. Its still largely in outline form, but Patricia has been busting out some killer doodles of gnomes in astronaut costumes to inspire us.

Marketing Pamphlet: Doug and I have all but finished the marketing pamphlet we will be handing out at all of the conventions this year. Its packed full of great CotV artwork, world building details, further information on our character creation system, as well as a long list of features you can expect to find in the game when its finished. All of the content is essentially finished but the technical aspects such as getting this thing laid out, embedding our fonts, working out reverse double sided printing, and binding it all is something new for me, so its taking a little time to get all the kinks worked out. We also plan to make this available online.

Quick Start Guide
: We've also been working for some time now on a paired down Quick Start version of the CotV rule set. This will be the copy we bring with us to the conventions this summer and will be made available for anyone to read who is interested.

CotV T-Shirts
: For the last several weeks we've been working on a T-shirt order for GenCon with a great screen printer We've just about got everything settled and are just about ready to pull the trigger. I'm really excited about getting these made. All of the players in our official CotV events this year will get a free shirt, and for those of you who can't make an event but will be at GenCon - keep and eye out for us and we might be able to hook you up with one too! Website Redesign
: Thanks to the hard work of Genie and Travis we are getting a new CotV website layout and forum design! The new website is going to be using Joomla and should prove to be a lot more engaging than the single dinky black page I wrote :) Genie has also been putting in some time into getting us more face time on Facebook, and we have her to thank for many of you reading this blog today!

So those are all the big projects, but there is also a basket full of other smaller stuff like a new CotV fiction story I'm writing featuring Ambrose, play tests with the Alpha crew, weapon and armor costing, etc.
So until next time...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Entry: 00-015: GenCon CotV Event Tickets

GenCon CotV Event Tickets
by Wedge, Co-Creator

I just wanted to give everyone a quick reminder that CotV will be hosting 4 special scenario events at GenCon this year as I mentioned in a previous post. Event registration just opened two days ago, and we have already sold half our total tickets!

So this is your friendly reminder to make sure to buy your GenCon badge soon and register for one of the CotV events today before they sell out!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Entry: 00-014: The Wilds Part 2 of 2 - Nightfall

The Wilds Part 2 of 2: Nightfall
by Wedge, Co-Creator

Several curious Zappers investigated the area drawn by Mata's energized shield. She powered it off and practiced slicing them apart with her boomerang kukri while she leaned against the tree, regaining her strength.

"Listen whatever these critters are paying you to let them eat me I'll double it," Hock said.

Mata let out a sharp laugh, "lets get that blood cleaned off you," Mata unrolled a medic kit stored in her thigh pouch, "everything here seems to want to get a taste."

"You've had your fair share of admirers, mind that elbow," Hock pointed to Mata's right arm which had a laceration running the length of her tricep.

Mata seemed to notice the cut for the first time and prodded it tenderly while flexing her arm testing its range of motion. For the next several minutes they busied themselves with dressing their wounds, re-hydrating,and Mata retrieved her weapons. The light was fading as they prepared to set out again for the crashed shuttle.

"Typically the nocturnal hunters are more dangerous than those that move around during the day, we should get going," advised Mata.

"What do you say we stick together this time?"

Mata assented with a slight nod, and the two set out at a sustainable pace.

A shift change overtook the alien jungle as they traveled, and the now familiar background noise of creatures large and small began to die away. An uneasiness began to settle across Mata's shoulders.

She had spent nearly her entire life in the uncharted wilds on dozens of worlds, but there was something different about this one. She could not give name to her growing concerns until the last deep throated groan died off, and an uncomfortable silence overtook the jungle which had been teeming with life moments before. Yes it was the silence that was so unnerving. Expecting to be surrounded by a chorus of unknown animals their absence was deeply troubling.

Hock's heavy footfalls behind her were booming in this transformed world and her own measured breath was disturbingly conspicuous. Even the wind seemed to have retreated, and the foliage overhead had stopped its endless rustling.

Making a gesture to stop Mata and Hock stood motionless. Mata quested out with her senses, ears rotating, nose twitching, trying to find any indication of life. The lightest wind still trickled through the tips of her hair and she could detect the faintest smell of smoke.


Not wanting to speak Mata pointed towards the source of the wind. Proceeding with calculated care they stalked through the muted jungle until the smoke led them to a scar carved through the wilderness. Shredded trees and undergrowth still smoldered in the wake of the crash site, and fires still burned bright enough to illuminate the dilapidated shuttle's carcass where it lay over 100 yards ahead wedged into the trunk of a ancient tree that now bowed forward at an unnatural angle.

Keeping a weather eye on the tree line, Mata danced over the fallen limbs and upturned earth making a path to the ship. The front half of the shuttle was now like a mangled accordion as it pancaked against the tree's broad trunk, but the back half seemed largely in tact. Creeping up she placed her hands on the ship, and ran them along until she reached a ragged hole opening into the pitch dark hull.

"Ripsis?" Mata whispered tentatively.

A deep bass groan emerged from the black, "Still alive; somehow," the tone sounded almost disappointed, "next time I'll take my chances in free fall."

Mata made a small smile to herself and from over her shoulder Hock said "I told you he would be all right."

"I could use a hand getting out of here, I spent the last of my energy reforming the interior bulkheads into a protective cocoon during the crash, but I didn't leave enough space to replace the charges, " Ripsis said.

"Don't worry big guy we'll spring you," turning to Hock she said, "give me a hand with one of those saplings cut down in the wreckage."

Scavenging around they found a likely candidate and Hock hefted the sturdy 9 foot long trunk while Mata helped guide it into the opening in the shuttles hull. Using it as a lever Hock put all of his weight onto the other end. The teeth grinding sound of metal on metal filled the unnaturally quiet night and the loosened bulkhead gave way slamming to the ground followed by the a tumbling form of a Lauxnaut curled into a tight ball. Ripsis rolled for several feet until his armor plated head came in contact with a stone outcropping jutting out of the jungle floor with a crack.

Unfazed Ripsis stood up measuring just a few inches shorter than Hock, but half again as wide as the him, and weighting in at over twice that of the fully armored soldier. Much of Ripsis's body was covered in naturally forming armored plates, and his exposed skin was a mix of the natural Lauxnaut grey highlighted with splotches and streaks of pallid green photocells. The modified Varigator armor suit covered the left side of his torso and arm. Three cylindrical discs studding his shoulder emitted jets of steam as they rotated counter clockwise to unlock - revealing the blackened cores of three fully discharged power cells. Removing the spent cells Ripsis gingerly retrieved two spare power cells from a canister on his belt and fitted them into the empty sockets. The power cores snapped to life emitting a pure white light and spun down clockwise locking in place hidden beneath the Varigator body armor. Almost instantly the green splotches on his skin turned from pale and washed out to a vibrant living color.

"Got any more of those?" Asked Hock indicating the power cells, "Spirit Crusher took a jolt and I haven't been able to get him online since."

"I'm running short," Ripsis's thumb jabbed to the shuttle wreckage "You may be able to dig one out of there."

"Lovely," Hock fished around in a pocket on his chest until he found a small light which he thumbed on as he stepped into the ruined ship.

Surveying the crash site Ripsis's gaze followed the low burning embers into the distance "So whats the status?"

"I think our ship got knocked out of the sky by coming too close to a swarm of mating bugs that vent electromagnetic waves from their asses," said Mata with a lopsided smile.

A deep gravely laugh escaped from Ripsis, "well I guess there's a first time for everything, whats the ETA for evac?"

"Should be a few hours from now... I was worried about the Zappers getting them too, but it looks like everything around here have gone to ground for the night." Mata eyed the shadows cast by the fire flickering across the stationary jungle canopy with trepidation, "I don't know whether to be relieved or concerned."

"Story of my life darling."

"Found one!" Exclaimed Hock as he returned form the shuttle's corpse gripping a fresh power cell in his hand. Depressing a pressure spot on the stalk of Spirit Crusher Hock ejected the old power cell which was charred and spider webbed with white cracks. Dismissively he flipped the dead cell to the ground replacing it with the fresh one. The plasma rifle hummed to life, and a familiar voice spoke inside Hock's ear.

"WJS Technology Model 209-C online, please input serial activation code."

"Damn, I think that bug fried more than the power cell," Hock said out loud, "I'm gonna have to let Dust take a look at it when we get back to The Overwatch. Still I feel a lot more prepared for the wildlife tour this time."

Punctuating Hock's words there was a strangled feral cry from the brush to the North of the crash site. Mata's senses snapped to alert picking up a rustling sound from a short tree nearby. The three held their positions perfectly still. A rasping sound came from the other side of the shuttle, like metal on scales. Hock smoothly panned the barrel of the Spirit Crusher towards the sound searching for its origin.

The silence resumed for another minute.

An unexpected thud vibrated up Hock's right leg and he looked down to find a foot long black serpent latched to the metal toe of his boot.

"I think you've bit off more than you can chew," Hock kneeled down and ejected the blade from his gauntlet severing the snake's head in a single motion. A viscous black fluid drained from the wriggling serpent.

Mata's nose wrinkled, "watch what you step in Hock - that reeks."

The tension broken, Ripsis began to stamp out some of the fires immediately surrounding the shuttle. Mata started searching the surrounding area for any more snakes. Hock pried the serpent's dead jaws from his boot and produced a cloth that he used to wipe the blood off his blade.

Mata had her back turned when the beast struck.

A startled yell was all the warning they had. Mata turned to find a massive beast descending upon Hock's crouched form. It was quadruped that must have stood at least 12 feet tall. Its back was a tangled mess of horns jutting out at random angles and its face was a writhing mass of the black serpents - the same as the one that had stuck to Hock's boot.

By the time Mata could call Ripsis and draw her kukri several serpents had latched onto Hock, lifted him off the ground, and were drawing him into its maw.

Darting forward Mata attempted to free him but Hock was already outside of her reach. Several more more hungry serpents struck out for her as she passed but she deftly dispatched them with her razor sharp blades. Ducking low Mata stepped under the beast and attempted to hamstring its front trunk like leg. Her kukri sliced through the matted fur on the back of the creatures leg but stopped short as it encountered some form of solid bone. The beast's back foot kicked forward at Mata with thick splayed claws and she leapt clear.

Ripsis had come around the corner of the shuttle and squared off facing the rampaging monster. The focusing crystals embedded in the knuckles of his three fingered left hand glowed red and he gestured to the dislodged bulkhead he had been trapped behind. The gigantic plate must have weighed a full ton but it rose up like a feather at his command. The bulkhead flung itself at the beast and its jagged edges sawed deep into the creatures flank. Its right rear leg went limp and the creature slowed considerably. One of the energy cells in Ripsis's armor ejected out with a hot jet of steam, the charge having been completely spent.

Struggling futilely Hock was nearly completely covered with countless serpents coiling around his limbs, drawing him deeper inside.

Mata slid the kukri back into their sheaths along her lower back and reached over her right shoulder to grip the cool handle bound tightly in a leather thong.

Pulling the long curved handle over her shoulder she gripped it two handed and activated the telescopic weapon to slide out forming a 5 foot long panabas. Whirling it in an over handed grip she set upon the wounded creature. Using her entire body's weight she lashed out with a devastating horizontal slash that severed the creatures front left leg at the knee. The animal collapsed under its own weight.

White hot energy jabbed out from inside the beast's chest cavity illuminating the dark night as Spirit Crusher's plasma beam roasted the creature from the inside out. Hock appeared in the breach riding out along with a wave of serpents all fleeing the burning corpse.

Mata looked on in horror no... it wasn't a corpse at all, it was some sort of nest.

Hundreds of jet black serpents of all sizes poured out of the once living nest seeking blood.

Scything through scores of them with her panabas Mata could only manage a fighting withdraw as the tide continued. Eventually the massive blade was fouled in a knot of thick snakes and she was forced to abandon it. Switch back to her kukri made her more agile but the enraged creatures beset her from all sides. Frantically searching for sanctuary Mata made for the tree line, leaping into the branches of a thick tree anchoring herself with her tail. She used both hands to cut down snake after snake as they slithered up the tree in pursuit. In a explosion of activity hidden animals who had taken refuge in the tree at nightfall fled in panic and fell to the jaws of the serpents. Scrambling to the top most branches capable of supporting her weight Mata eased out onto a limb restricting the paths the assailants could take to reach her. From here she was able to catch her breath and slay the diminished flow of serpents at leisure.

Looking down onto the crash site Mata found that Ripsis had devised his own way of handling the swarm of beasts. Having torn a yard long metal reinforcement bar from the shuttle he now used his Varigator powers to turn the bar into a spinning lawn mower blade churning around the jungle chopping snakes into tiny chunks.

The exodus finally subsided and the last of the serpents interested in Mata retreated.

She made her way back down the tree. Hock was laid out next to the smoldering nest struggling feebly with a few serpents that still held fast to his body. Mata deftly decapitated the last of those, and surveyed him.

It looked bad.

While his armor remained largely in tact shielding the majority of his body, bite marks covered Hock's exposed skin particularly around his neck and lower arms. Most of the wounds weeped with thick black poison.

"Hock can you hear me?"

Hock's eyes were unfocused and he seemed to be still attempting to weakly brush off snakes which were no longer attached to him, "I got in three stims before I was pulled down into that stinking gullet so I'm feeling pretty damn good right now," he managed a pathetic grin, "but I've got a sneaking suspicion that I'm not gonna be saying that when these things wear off."

"I think we are gonna need this," Ripsis stomped over gripping a squirming serpent tightly behind its head.

Mata emptied out her canteen and guided the snake in Ripsis's hand to the lip of the bottle. With a killer instinct the snake struck at the bottle, fangs extending inside, and Mata milked out the venom.

"Sit tight Cain, when Lady Baylen gets here she will be able to make an antidote," commanded Ripsis.

Hock was deliriously crawling back towards the smoking hive of dead serpents "Mmmm, that smells good, anyone up for some BBQ?"