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Shadow Theory in the NWOD

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  • Shadow Theory in the NWOD

    Shadow Theory is a kinda neat setting someone made for d20 Modern a while back; sadly, they never finished, because it was a cool concept.

    Basically, it's a zombie apocalypse, combined with the invasion by beings from beyond our universe; light is safe, darkness is not, blah, blah, blah...

    But there's one standout bit: none of the monsters can be permanently killed. Why? The event that broke the veil between the worlds, which happened on the 18th of November, 2010, happens every night. And when it happens, green lightning cracks open the night sky and every human or Entity corpse, regardless of damage, is restored to (un)life AND full health. Plus, Entities can appear anywhere there's a low enough light level and enough space, including inside cupboards and other "safe" places.

    You can find a PDF of the rules here.

    Right now, I'm concerned with just the "Tainted Ones" (Zombies), which you should be able to transplant into any (appropriate) game; I will be using Rose's Zombie Creation system update, as well as adding a few additional Aspects. I'm currently wracking my brains on how to deal with two of the "branches" of Animiasis (zombie evolution); Haruspices (psychic zombies in eternal pain who can forge psychic links with the living, allowing them to track them anywhere) and Harpies (incredibly loud human mimics who can steal faces). I'll just be posting the ones I've got for now.
    So, without further ado:

    The Tainted Ones
    Corpses resurrected by The Black, Tainted Ones start off looking like their original identities, though they soon develop alien mutations under its pervasive influence. Difficult to kill at the best of times, Tainted Ones are also resurrected by the nightly Event, ensuring that the hordes will never truly thin out.
    The "evolution" of Tainted Ones is referred to as animiasis, a strange system of mutilation and "improvements". Animiasis has a definite preference for building off pre-existing features of a body; however, if a body is missing certain... parts, The Black is happy to fill in with inhuman and chitinous outgrowths.

    Stage 1
    Corpses in Stage 1 of Animiasis look mostly like they did in life; however, their hair, nails, and lips begin to blacken while their eyes and skin fades towards a blank, chalk white. When they open their mouths, rows of rotting, chipped teeth serve as makeshift fangs.
    Stage 1 Tainted Ones all have the following stat-block:

    Tainted One - (10 CP)
    Power: 2
    Finesse: 2
    Resistance: 2
    Health: 5
    Armor: 1/0
    Initiative: 1
    Physical Integrity: 10
    Size: 4 or 5
    Speed: 1
    Aspects: Contagious* 2, Invulnerable, Magic Resistance 1, Pack Instinct 1, Preservation 3, Sense (Untainted Creatures), Special Attack (Sharp Jaws), Thick Hide 1
    Weakness: Unholy

    *In the Tainted One's case, the Contagion is spread through The Black, rather than anything they do themselves.
    Stages 2 - 5
    At each further stage of animiasis, a Tainted One's bodies begin to repurpose themselves, following the "whims" of The Black. While the modifications are theoretically infinite in variety, Tainted Ones usually follow certain "patterns" in their evolution - here, those patterns are referred to as Taxons. Each level of a Taxon is worth 5 CP and must be taken in order; Wight 1 must be taken before Wight 2, for example. A Tainted One may draw from multiple Taxons; however, each level adds one to the Tainted One's Stage. If a Tainted One's Stage exceeds 5, they have evolved into something more; in those cases, use the Spirit rules to create an appropriate Rank 3 spirit, whose form and influences reflect its origins.

    Bruiser Taxon
    Bruisers are probably the "simplest" mutations a Tainted One can go through; they just become big and strong, bulging with inhuman muscles and calcified knuckles. At higher levels of this Taxon, the Tainted One resembles a hairless gorilla, skin split from the excess of muscle tissue.
    At each level of this Taxon, the Tainted One increases their Power by 1, and spends 1 CP on the Undead Strength Aspect and the Special Attack aspects, choosing either Ferocious or Grapple.
    1 - At the first level of the Taxon, the Tainted One's shoulders begin to hunch; they look like their former form crossed with a linebacker, though they are still recognizably human. They gain the Special Attack (Tackle) aspect - this allows them to attempt to knock a character to the ground with an attack; doing so halves the damage they deal, but inflicts the Knocked Down Tilt on a successful attack.
    2+ - At each level past the first, the Tainted One grows. And grows. And grows. At each level, they spend 1 CP on the Inhuman Growth, reflecting their sheer muscle mass; their spine snaps forward and reconfigures to allow their massive chest and arm muscles space.
    New Aspect - Twitch Mortis: Some zombies develop a hairspring twitchiness that allows them to shift out of the way of attacks, causing them to hit less important parts of their body. Upon spending 1 CP on this Aspect, the zombie gains a Defense equal to their [Finesse]. Each CP spent on this Aspect thereafter either increases their Defense by 2 or allows them to apply their Defense against Firearms attacks.

    Edward Taxon
    No-one is entirely sure how this Taxon got its name; the best guess is that it's short for "Edward Scissorhands", thanks to the foot-long bone blades they sprout from their fingers. Whatever the source of the name, it doesn't change how they mutate; muscles become sinewy and stretched, while bone hooks erupt from on the limbs on their limbs, letting them crawl around on the ceiling. Pure Edward Tainted Ones tend to become emaciated and twitchy - appropriate, since they can dodge bullets.
    At each level of this Taxon, the Tainted One increases their Finesse by 1, and spends 1 CP on the Quick Movement aspect, always choosing to increase Speed rather than Initiative.
    1 - The Tainted One becomes twitchier and twitchier, with the flesh on their fingertips hardening and receding, creating makeshift claws. They spend 1 CP on both the Special Attack (Claw) and Twitch Mortis Aspects.
    2 - Bone begins to jut out of the body, little hooks lining their limbs and exaggerating their spine; the tips of their fingers almost triple in length, becoming razor-sharp. They spend 1 CP on the Special Attack (Claw) and Wall-Crawling aspects.
    3 - The Tainted One starts being practically prescient in its twitchy, feral movements - their claws double in length again, and they lose the last joint in each finger to the calcified reinforcements. They spend 1 CP on the Wall-Crawling aspect, and spend another CP to allow them to apply their Defense against Firearm attacks.
    4 - They look like nothing so much as a humanoid spider; their claws double in length again, while their limbs get stretched, barbs protruding every which way. They spend 1 CP on Quick Movement (+5 Speed) and Twitch Mortis (+2 Defense).

    Roughneck Taxon
    Some survivors theorize that Roughnecks are The Black's attempt to create something like a flamethrower... At least, that's one theory for why there are obscenely tough zombies that projectile vomit poisonous acid. In most cases, the constant dribble of acid out of their mouth has destroyed their lower jaws, giving them a larger "nozzle" for their disgusting attack.
    At each level of this Taxon, the Tainted One increases their Resistance by 1, and spends 1 CP on the Tough Aspect.
    1 - The Tainted One becomes a walking mortar; the only real sign of a change is the rotting, pitted remains of their lower jaw, and the fact that they are strangely tough for their size. The Tainted One spends 1 CP on the Tough aspect, as well as on Special Attack (Spitter).
    2+ - The Tainted One practically waddles at this point, their body reconfiguring further to allow them to expel more and more of their disgusting payload. Their skin starts spinning plates out of reanimated hair follicles, encasing them in keratin plates. At each of these levels, the Tainted One spends 1 CP on the Thick Hide and Toxic aspects - the toxin in question is encased in their vomit, getting into any open wounds on their victim's bodies. This poison inflicts the Disease - Infected Injury Condition on the victim.


    I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

    So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

  • #2
    You forgot that Tainted Ones aren't quite zombies. They eat humans, to be sure, but that's to accelerate and direct animiasis. The real danger to them is that Tainted are fully intelligent, though they don't remember any human life. They organize. They plan. They worship.

    And they don't swarm. They hunt.


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    • #3
      Made from corpses no matter the damage? Are we talking about them busting out of animal stomachs after being digested or bursting out of the urns on someone's mantles?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Leliel View Post
        You forgot that Tainted Ones aren't quite zombies. They eat humans, to be sure, but that's to accelerate and direct animiasis. The real danger to them is that Tainted are fully intelligent, though they don't remember any human life. They organize. They plan. They worship.

        And they don't swarm. They hunt.
        True; I kinda summed them up as zombies because that's kinda what they are; also, the baseline Tainted Ones are unintelligent.

        They also only truly organize when the intelligent strains (which I haven't written up yet) are around. I mean, they do co-ordinate (hence the Pack Tactics aspect), but I wouldn't say that a Bruiser or a Roughneck is more than dimly sentient. Also, are you sure about the worship part? I thought that was the Fallen.

        I'm glad to see someone else is familiar, though; you're reminding me that I have to write up a (small) template for the Fallen. And a Tilt for the The Black. And some of the Entities. And the Welcome To Silent Hill optional rule. (Would you like to help with fluff? I'd appreciate it A LOT.)

        Originally posted by StSword View Post
        Made from corpses no matter the damage? Are we talking about them busting out of animal stomachs after being digested or bursting out of the urns on someone's mantles?
        I picked my words poorly . I meant that if the corpse is missing limbs, heads, or a significant portion of their chest, the Event will rebuild them, replacing the lost flesh with something inhuman. Rendering them down to delicious corpse slurry or ashes would, I assume, render them enough of "not a corpse" for the Event to "skip" them.


        I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

        So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

        Comment

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