The Praetorian Template

   The Praetorians are one of the major opponents in the Federation-Apocalypse setting. Given their basic motivations, they might eventually become allies – but whether their current opposition is rooted in their inherent instability, deception, enemy manipulation or recruitment, or simple confusion, its a fact of life for the moment.

   Technically, this is set up as a “Race” rather than a “Template”, since it normally pretty much rebuilds your entire body, it usually eliminates most of your previous racial modifiers. If you want to retain some of them, just plug in the cost of what you want to retain and see if it changes the net ECL modifier.

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   The Praetorians are the result of desperation, of deep research into human structure and fertility, and of nanotechnology – humans with their underlying physical structure rebuilt at the cellular level into immensely powerful, nigh-immortal, and virtually indestructible machines. Initial experimentation revolved around imprinting a version of the human genetic code on nano-assemblers, but the computational requirements of translating osmosis-based chemical development-guidance signals into nanite commands proved crippling. Infusing the bloodstream of a living human subject with nanites which gradually replaced the biological structures of the human body with an ever less-biological series of micromachine substitutes – very carefully, and in a very precise order while the subject was held in deep hibernation to maintain their life – proved more practical.

   A project originally designed to serve as a stopgap in the realms struggle against infertility – both as a research into the deepest realms of what it was to be human and as a life-extension technique – was soon turned to military purposes, as an escalating conflict against an out-of-control Russian AI began to eclipse other priorities. Young men and women from prominent military families were recruited and transformed. While most soon fell to suicide or madness, enough survived to make a major difference in the war.

   Praetorians are visually almost identical to normal humans and weigh about the same amount as one. Fundamentally, those are about the only points of similarity remaining. Their bloodstream consists of raw materials and reconstruction nanites, their skin of polymers and armor, their bones of diamond and carbon nanotubules, their “metabolism” of a high-efficiency organic-driven fuel cell supplemented by external electrical sources and superconducting storage coils, their nervous system of conductive carbon nanotubeules, a computer “brain” which mimics human neural architecture, and electro-contractile polymer muscles and “tendons”. The overall layout is familiar, but the only significant vestige of the original human is the soul.

   The Praetorian Template comes to a total of 247 CP. That makes it a +7 ECL template – if just barely – or 361 CP and +11 ECL if the half-price rule for attribute bonuses is not in use in the campaign. Fortunately for would-be Praetorians, the template is normally considered Corrupted (+5 ECL, or +7 ECL if the half-price rule for attribute bonuses is not in use). In the F-A setting, where the +5 ECL modifier applies (an effective cost of  165 CP) there are 26 CP left before the ECL adjustment would hit +6 – which should be enough to cover most of the relevant features of a prior race. Humans are particularly easy, since they only cost 9 CP to begin with.

   What’s makes it Corrupted? Praetorians are relatively easy to detect via a wide variety of instruments and senses (they radiate on a variety of frequencies, their body temperature and spectra differs radically from a humans, their internal noises, structures, and functions are all radically different), they cannot breed with normal humans without some remarkable interventions, the entire template shuts down in completely non-technological realms, and they cannot use, or be directly augmented by, magical or psionic abilities – an effect which makes them difficult to heal magically or psionically (half effect). They usually don’t deal well with magic or psionics, but that’s generally simply due to their upbringing: Singular – their world or origin – is a pretty much purely technological realm.

   The later models were programmed with loyalty to the human race, the urge to protect humanity, and an urge to obey duly elected human leaders, but it’s the no magic/no psionics restriction which really hurts them.

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The Praetorian Template includes:

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Immunity/Cyberware: Items taken via the Gadgetry/Cyberware (Dex Based) skill cannot be taken away without surgery (Common/Minor/Major, 6 CP base. Specialized: Cyberware skill cannot be bought up later, 3 CP, plus the Gadgetry/Cyberware skill at 3+Dex Mod). Their standard-issue cyberware includes equivalents to core-issue:

  • Special Service Smartclothes, with the Exoskeleton and +30 HP modifiers (8 gadget slots in total): These subsystems provide:
  • Personal-computer and HUD functions
  • IR, UV, Low-Light, Magnification, and Flash Suppression Visual Enhancements
  • Personal and environmental monitoring
  • Encrypted radio communications
  • Comfort from arctic to tropical desert temperatures
  • An environmental seal, allowing them to survive space conditions for up to 48 hours and providing a +4 bonus on saves against chemical agents.
  • +6 AC “Natural Armor”), +6/- DR, and Universal Energy Resistance 6
  • +6 to Listen and Spot
  • +4 to Unarmed Damage
  • +4 To Hit with smartlinked ranged weaponry.
  • +4 Strength
  • +2 Dexterity
  • +10′ Move

   Most of the characters in the Federation-Apocalypse setting use this sort of gear; these 6 CP are invested simply for style: having the Praetorians avoid the gear would put them at an irrational disadvantage – but wearing it doesn’t fit the image. Ergo, they’ve got it as built-in cyberware. That way they can do the torn-shirt/skimpy-clothing pulp routine without penalty.

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Their other enchancements include:

  • Enhanced Attributes: +20 Str, +8 Dex, and +10 Con. (114 CP)
  • Enhanced Resistance: +4 on Fortitude (12 CP) and Will (12 CP) Saves.
  • Grant of Aid/Fast Healing Variant, with the Mighty, Spark of Life, and Regenerative modifiers and +4 Bonus Uses/Regenerative Nanites. They can regenerate (10+Con Mod)x(12+Level) HP per day at 2 HP/Round, can regrow limbs and organs, and will remain alive – and both healing and healable – for (Con x 5) rounds after they ought to be dead. (24 CP).
  • Innate “Enchantment”/Metabolic Augmentations: Sustenance (reduces the need for food, air, sleep, and water to one-fourth of normal), Hibernation (may sink into deep hibernation, slowing their metabolism – and the progress of harmful agents – to 1% of normal), +2d6 Bonus HD (provides +12 + 2x Con Mod HP), Personal Haste (+1 attack at full BAB when making a full attack, +30′ Movement), and Resistance/+2 on saves versus Poisons and Disease. As a non-magical effect, this has a downside: Praetorians are vulnerable to nanite infections, computer viruses, hacking, and similar problems (8 CP).
  • Advanced Augmented Bonus/Programmed Reflexes: Add their Dex Mod to their Int Mod when calculating their Skill Points (Specialized, only at L1, Corrupted: these points may only be spent on physical skills, 6 CP).
  • Adaption/Spacer Reflexes: Suffers no penalties for operating in microgravity (6 CP).
  • Berserker/Emergency Overload (Berserker, Controlled, Odinpower, Odinmight, and Enduring. Enduring is Specialized: Only works when the user is connected to an external power supply. They use the classical bonuses: +8 Str, +8 Con, +4 Will, -2 AC, for (3+Con Mod) rounds (L+3)/3 times per day but must make a DC 18 will save to do something other than fighting during this period (19 CP).
  • Martial Arts/Iron-Hard Skin: Causes a base of 1d6 damage and is considered armed in “unarmed” combat (6 CP).
  • Reflex Combat/Combat Reflexes (6 CP).
  • Stoic/Support Systems: does not have to make massive damage saves (6 CP).
  • Timeless Body/Self-Sustaining: Do not noticeably age during their lifespans (3 CP).
  • Immunity to Aging/Self-Sustaining (Uncommon/Minor/Major: normal lifespan of about 1200 years, 3 CP).
  • Tireless: will never become exhausted or fatigued from normal physical efforts (6 CP).
  • Traceless/Inorganic Structure: Praetorians leave no fingerprints, DNA traces, hairs, or similar traces. (Specialized: they do leave nanite traces, 3 CP).
  • Celerity/Enhanced Movement Speed +20 (9 CP).

   The Praetorians are incredibly powerful and dangerous. Even unarmed, with a base strength of only 10, and without a BAB to call their own, they can punch at +12/+12, for 1d6+16 points of damage each time. With a martial art, and a higher strength bonus, they can readily crack adamantium with their bare hands. They also get (42 + 2x Con Mod) bonus HP at level one and – in the Federation-Apocalypse setting, where a characters Str Mod (and the bonus from their cyberware) also applies as universal DR versus both physical and energy damage – they can be expected to shrug off similar attacks from others as well.

   Outside of their template, most Praetorians can be expected to have good base statistics, to know one or more (mundane) martial arts, to use the heaviest available weapons, to have a fair BAB, and to have at least d6 hit dice.

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One Response

  1. […] ECL Praetorian*: +7 ECL without the half-price attribute rule. An atrocity of raw physical […]

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