Wednesday, January 25, 2012

System Shopped: The Cult of the Machine God - Serenity

The Cult of the Machine God uploads itself....
System Shopped: Serenity
by Tobie Abad
January 2012

In the new World of Darkness main book, a repeatedly referenced concept is that of the Cult of the Machine God.  In what I feel is a nod to the role-playing game Kult and the video game Silent Hill, the Cult of the Machine God is an esoteric faith founded on the existence of clockwork angels and other seemingly mechanical divine entities that are broken or lost in the world.   In one art piece, a man is shown having a massive gear tattoo on his back as a computer feed speaks of how the world is coming to an end.

I found the concept exciting and thought it would be a great one to try and adapt to other games as well.  So here, allow me to present the Cult of the Machine God, uploaded into Serenity, the Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd role-playing game adaptation of the t.v. series Firefly.

The Cult of the Machine God
for Serenity RPG
Out there in the Black, some whisper of a Reaver ship that seems unlike any other.   Make no mistake, them Reavers are dangerous, them all.  But some whisper there's this ship that travels in the outer fringes of the Verse, with its engines unshielded and its bulkhead exposed.  

They say as the ship comes into view, the comms start picking up sounds from the Reaver ship.  Clicking sounds.  Hissing.  Grinding.  Like sounds from a massive machine that just won't quit.  Gorram Alliance folks say it's all just stupid talk from common folk like us.  But we know better.  You see, here in the Outer Rim, we don't make up stories like this unless we have a reason to.  And this ship, boy we did.

It came to our moon, you see.  Flew in from the shadow of the setting sun and parked itself right there.  There near the windmill and the protein converter the Serenity sold to us the other summer.   Now, we're used to them raids, you see, and locked ourselves up in our homes with our pistols and rifles ready for blooding.  The hatches of the ship slid open and the Reavers that emerged ain't looked like anything we've seen before.  They had gears and wires sticking out of them.  They had oil running through tubes in their necks.  They had steam rising from their nostrils.  They moved like trained soldiers, feet matching steps as they marched to the protein converter and began disassembling it.   You heard me right, dis-assembling it.  Not tearing it apart.  Not throwing it around.  They broke it down to its tiny pieces, then began swallowing what they could.  And without another word, they marched back to their ship, fired up their bird, and left.

We didn't know what to make of it then.
We still ain't know what to make of it now.

We just don't let anyone bring any new converters to our moon now.
We just keeping it simple, from now on.

taken from here.
The Borg?
No, not really.  The Cult of the Machine God are Reavers who have stared out into the Black for too long, they began to realize their ship was the very thing that was keeping them alive in this vast sea of blackness.  The ship was literally their savior and through it, they were allowed to live their tiny pathetic lives.  They began devouring smaller machines in hopes of becoming.. perhaps evolving... into something like their ship.  Perhaps generations later, they did begin to change.

Or perhaps that story is all a lie.
Perhaps the truth is, the Cult of the Machine God was another Alliance experiment gone awry.  Perhaps the Alliance attempted to infuse technology onto some captured Reavers in hopes of transforming them into perfect killing machines.  Perhaps they completely lost control of their subjects, and these Reavers escaped, but not before registering the traumatic event they experienced as one where they stood before their Creator (with all the bright lights and strange smells).  Perhaps now, the Reavers have indeed found a religion, with its word shared by this initial escaped group.

Or perhaps the Verse has things we will never understand.
Let's just be happy the Verse is a pretty big place.

So what stats do these things use?
Cult of the Machine God Reavers
Agi d8, Str d10, Vit d10, Ale d8, Int d6, Wil d10;
Life Points: 24
Initiative: d8  + d8
Traits: Tough as Nails (Major Asset), Fightin' Type (Major Asset), Sadistic (Major Complication).

New Traits: "Vegetarians" (Major Complication) - These Reavers seem to act as if human flesh was irreleevant and tend to focus instead on any active machinery that they can feast on.  They do not, however, attack machinery that is clearly part of the ship.  This mechanically functions like the Hooked complication.

Mechanically Inclined (Major Asset) - While these Reavers are unable to do wonders with Engineering the way someone like Kaylee would be able to, they are, however surprisingly intuitive in how to disassemble any machinery they seek to consume.  Even while a machine is running, these Reavers can apply their Brawling skill as an Engineering roll to disassemble a device safely.

Deadly Enemy (Minor Asset) - These Reavers do not register as Reavers to others.  Reavers of the Cult of the Machine God are treated just like any other person by Reavers that notice them:  Meat.
Traumatic Flashbacks (Minor Complication) - Bright lights cause these Reavers to drop to the ground and cower in fear (or adoration).  Perhaps the light reminds them of something...

Skills: Athletics d6, Covert d6 /Stealth d8, Discipline d6, Guns d6/Pistol d8, Perception d4, Melee d6/Knives d10, Unarmed Combat d6/Brawling d10.

Special Note:  While just like other Reavers, these Reavers feel no pain.  They ignore the effects of  Stun damage, and do not suffer Wound penalties for injuries.

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