Friday 27 August 2021

Terror of the Stratosfiend #2

Terror of the Stratosfiend #2 Melancholic Terminal Ascent was written by Sean Richer. Art is by El Huervo (Niklas Åkerblad) (cover), GRAZ,, RabidBlackDog/Krzysztof Bieniawski, Shane O'Neil, James Everett Jackson, Michael Weeks, Sam Mameli and Andy Hopp. The publisher is Orbital Intelligence.

Disclosure: I backed the successful Kickstarter for this product.

Let's look inside. 

Introduction - or Welcome Back: This is not a standard foreword, but is a mini-description of the setting. Someday, I hope that there is a volume which is pure sourcebook, that expands upon the Drop. 

Equipment: This section has two major parts. The first is The Conduits : Living, Sentient, and Incubating, wherein we learn more about the strange effects the Drop had on ordinary objects...including (and, in this case, specifically) weapons. This is really, really good stuff that judges using any flavor of DCC may wish to use in their campaigns.

The second part is The Six Chambered Hell's Apothecary for Wandering Clerics, which offers four items that clerics, surgeons, or others might use to aid the wounded, and two that simulate parts of Turning the Unholy. This does be the question "What do clerics look like in this setting?" and makes one want to mash up Stratosfiend with the twisted deities from The Umerican Survival Guide

Characters: This issue of Terror of the Stratosfiend offers up three new character classes:  

Half-Stratosfiend Reality Binder: Living siege towers-watch as they twist and contort their limbs and tentacles into complex formations. Flesh surging forth, forming platforms and facades. As they harden, the Stratosfiend's will surges through, warping and mutating all spells they cast.

It is rumoured the Stratosfiend were here all along, and the Drop was caused by those trying to force the Hive to join them. All over the planet you find strange enormous statues of tentacle entwined beings-allegedly these Reality Binders called the Drop.

But who cares about history, when all we have is now? Benders serve as conduits and nodes for the Stratosfiend hivemind's will, their bodies are the tuning forks.

Stratosfiend Magistrate "IX-777" Fear-Engine: The most secretive members of the Stratosfiend invasion are known as Unit IX-777. They are, literally, the Terror of the Stratosfiend. They believe dread is the only way to drive the invasion forward and they are ordained as "living saints" with a divine right to spread fear.

The Fear-Engines rely on living sentient weapons that they refer to as "instruments"-voice of the Stratosfiend Hivemind and conduits for the nightmares they've incubated.

They prefer the company of the lesser Stratosfiend. As a result, they often infect worlds with Half-Stratosfiend agents, making way for the towering Gladiatrices.

Members of the IX-777 frequently take trophies from the defeated but do not believe in or practice torture as it means expulsion from the unit. (ALSO THE WRITER DOES NOT CONDONE IT.)

Half-Stratosfiend Roof Jumper: Glass, concrete and rebar form no cage that can hold these kin of the Stratosfiend. They excel leaping from rooftop to rooftop, unleashing bursts of speed confounding all that seek to trap them.

If you need a job done quick, consider it already done-delivery, theft or a quick assassination.

They, and their trademark RavenSpawn, are literal front runners of the hive mind. Their temporal wakes serve as guideposts for the arriving armada.

It should be obvious from the class descriptions that there is a certain amount of complexity involved in their write-ups. This is not, however, too much complexity to make the class mechanics at all difficult. The very real differences in these characters makes me, again, wonder what adventures in the author's home campaign must be like. There is a section on Terror Incarnate, which relates both to the Conduits in the Equipment section and the IX-777 Fear Engines.

Spells: This section starts with a wonderful bit of lore entitled Doors Were All the Rage. It is necessary to understand the spells that follow. More importantly, it provides statistics for using doors as they were intended - as two-handed weapons. Included, naturally, is a d10 table of door types. The spells are:

Hatch Door Offspring (level 1): One of the strangest spells; where do doors come from? Rumour has it that strange forms of door husbandry, egg laying and occult magics led to ‘The Modern Door.’ Door mages rely on this spell to replenish their door supplies—as they’re always running off, shattering or being ushered into dark realms. Each additional door used in the spell adds +1 to the spell result.

Door Surfing the Cosmos (level 2): A simple spell from back when the Door God still held lavish parties and everyone was expected to show up in style. Door practitioners often use flocks of doors to transport their associates. So, uh… pile on and let’s fly!

Oh, and the door is imbued with some extra damage potential.

And it might shatter…

Entangle Doors (level 3): Easily one of the most useful and dangerous spells of a doorceror, allowing 2 (or more) doors to be spectrally entangled over long distance. What does this mean? You can use 2 (or more) doors for long distance communicating and—with enough invested energy… maybe even as a portal.

Once a connection is established, 10% chance both doors shatter when used.

Good stuff for any post-Apocalyptic setting where magic and super-science mingle. 

Bestiary: This section has six parts, the first providing demon statistics for the various entities in Razor-Worn's Oasis of Wires and the second all the cultists of Razor-Worn and the Door God in A Tale of 2 Cults. For more information on Razor-Worn, see Terror of the Stratosfiend #1.5. The third part, Space Piracy, provides some tables for describing your space pirates. The fourth part, Goliath Fractal Engines, provides a doomsday scenario monster if you want one. The fifth part is A Brief History of Organ-Fractals, where a bit of body horror...or healing...or power-gaining comes into play!

Organ-Fractals were initially a medical process to repair damaged limbs and organs, a strange mixture between the maggot spas of Xentarsus and nano biomachines with minds of their own. They bend to strong wills and all of them flock to the Orbital Intelligence Acceptance (considered by many to be the root OrganFractal, from which they were all shaped).

Let's skip to the part you care about: how to inject them and what happens when you do.

The final part details two demons related to Acceptance, who is also described in Issue #1.5. The Table of Contents does not list the Goliath Fractal Engines or the demons related to Acceptance as separate headings, so this might all be considered part of the Brief History.

Appendix O - Post-Drop'Torate Occupations: Setting occupations. 

Appendix S - Lucky Signs: Alternate birth augurs "for those of pre-Drop earth origins (or those in hiding)" and "those born beyond the stars and those that were molded and warped by ways of the Cosmic  Gantry".

Appendix L - An Aside on Language: Information on the setting languages, which has a random table. 

Wait... There's More: Finally, the issue rounds off with Appendix B - The Lust of the Bat God...which consists of random tables for when you ask the Bat God for a lift to another planet. How you get there, what the Bat God does to the planet, the state of the planet when you land, and how you pay. 

“While Earth was ravaged by the Drop, space continued distorting. Strange new entities, unknown to modern and fantastical humanity, roiled in the depths of space.”

Get It Here!

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