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venkelos

Afriel Mechanics?

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I was flipping through Only War, and some Rogue Trader, while doing some stuff for a story, and I was reminded of the Afriel Strain project; an attempt to clone some of the Imperium's greatest mortal heroes, on a massive scale, and create an army of "human supermen", based on the likes of Macharius, Gaunt, Yarrick, or whomever else's genetics you could acquire. The project was a riveting success...with equally fail-tastic setbacks. Now, while I've read Macharius, and at least in Angel of Fire, he does even seem to be almost superhuman, before his youthercizing drugs begin to fail, it's his mind they were going after, as he was among the greatest generals, not mere soldiers (sorry, anyone), in the history of the Imperium. Why were they mass-producing them, and then throwing them into ground battles? Why weren't they crafting smaller "Command Units", and putting their tactical abilities in control of mass troops, or do they already have enough leaders, and they just wanted superior, super-smart grunts?

Okay, where this BS is going is that I was wondering what sort of template, akin perhaps to the Gland Warrior, one might attach to an Afriel-strain Abhuman? For this story, the Rogue Trader only finds one, because most Rogue Traders do only find one of a rare thing; that's what makes it valuable. This example is one Setiva Drusilla, and she believes herself to be the daughter of Saint Drusus (she is, in fact, an Afriel-strain clone of the Hero of Calixis, and no actual time-travel shenanigans are afoot). In my HC, the Tau invade the Koronus Expanse, with help, and the Calixis forces need to try and prevent them from getting a foothold there, before they might then launch an offensive on Calixis, which has already found itself on hard times. Setiva learns of this, by some means, and decides that, as her "father" saved Calixis, she must help to save Koronus, and, by extension, Calixis, maybe even surpassing his legend, in the act. So, she finds the forces mostly tasked with dealing with the Tau incursion, and wants to help them, lending her impressive tactical mind, and other Afriel-level abilities, to the cause. Thus, we come to the conundrum; on a one-person, template scale, what might those abilities be? I don't know how much better than a man, but worse than a Marine she'd be, except apparently, even as a clone of someone as charismatic as Macharius, or Drusus, she'd have shite Fellowship, and so leadership might be tricky; thanks, Chaos. Any ideas would be much appreciated.

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The Afriel Strain were abandoned because, in addition to attracting the undue hatred of fellow soldiers, they appeared to be legitimately Warp-cursed, with horrible luck even worse than the Lamenters. They were basically baseline humans with superior mental abilities and skills, but physically just fit humans. They got regulated to crap details until they were chewed up and eliminated to prevent them from bringing any (more) costly disasters down on Imperial forces. I think the only times we got a good look were some Chapter approved rules, and the 2nd and 3rd Last Chancers novels. Rules wise, they had 'And They Shall Know No Fear' like Astartes, but everyone in the enemy army had Preferred Enemy against them to represent their awful luck, which was so bad that Priests and the Inquisition refused to ally with your army.

In the novels, they are portrayed as having little empathy or social skills and fundamental disconnects to other humans, which combined with their odd appearance left them a target of mistrust and distaste. While they show great loyalty and superb skills, that is counterbalanced by commensurate ill luck-things like knocking loose material when hiding or moving stealthily, unfortunate ricochets, that sort of thing. Just being around them is dangerous to other people.

Mechanics wise-maybe look into some of the various curses and warp screwage-things like a chance for rerolls or spent fate points to have no effect, and starting with one less fate point. Any time something bad might happen via random, non-skill/ability percentile, that chance should be increased for an Afriel Strain. Also, they should have a severe penalty to Fellowship, and maybe restrictions on various command/leadership skills and talents. To balance that, they should have significant bonuses to WS, BS, Int, Per, a grab-bag of bonus combat talents and several mental talents-like Duty Unto Death, and either Fearless or at least Unshakable Faith and Nerves of Steel.

Edited by ViperMagnum357

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5 minutes ago, Jargal said:

On thing I can remember is Abhuman Character Guide by Lodge Blackman

Thank you very much. I liked some of the funny art that appeared within. ;) I'll look through it more, a bit later, after I'm done with work.

At ViperMagnum357: Thanks, but it still, sort of, doesn't answer one of my questions. They were breeding copies of Officers; men and women who sit in a bunker, or aboard an orbiting spaceship, moving ground forces around like pawns on a chess board, and sometimes with as much callous detachment. Why would groups of these people be put with ground-pounder troops, where they could piss them off? Stick them in a hololithic-equipped war room, alone if you have too, and let them strategize, then implement their presented plans. I suppose their luck thing could even taint this, maybe, as their seemingly perfect plans lynch-pin themselves into the ground, after some little butterfly effect thing changes everything, but it seems odd that they did this the way they did, even if the troops had worked, without a hitch, as soldiers, and officers, seem to do some very different jobs, in some very different ways. Oh well, it's neither here, nor there, now, is it? Thanks much for the insight, and have a  good one.

 

 

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1 hour ago, venkelos said:

Thank you very much. I liked some of the funny art that appeared within. ;) I'll look through it more, a bit later, after I'm done with work.

At ViperMagnum357: Thanks, but it still, sort of, doesn't answer one of my questions. They were breeding copies of Officers; men and women who sit in a bunker, or aboard an orbiting spaceship, moving ground forces around like pawns on a chess board, and sometimes with as much callous detachment. Why would groups of these people be put with ground-pounder troops, where they could piss them off? Stick them in a hololithic-equipped war room, alone if you have too, and let them strategize, then implement their presented plans. I suppose their luck thing could even taint this, maybe, as their seemingly perfect plans lynch-pin themselves into the ground, after some little butterfly effect thing changes everything, but it seems odd that they did this the way they did, even if the troops had worked, without a hitch, as soldiers, and officers, seem to do some very different jobs, in some very different ways. Oh well, it's neither here, nor there, now, is it? Thanks much for the insight, and have a  good one.

 

 

Their bad luck applied in all sorts of ways-malfunctioning equipment, garbled transmissions, people forgetting important details via distraction, and all sorts of other incidents you do not want anywhere near sensitive situations or fragile equipment. We get a short anecdote from one of the characters in the second Last Chancers novel that does not paint a pretty picture-her unit was reassigned to the front line because they were an overall detriment to the war effort, yet represented such an immense investment it would have been political suicide and a morale crusher to decommission such a vaunted and very public program. So they got sent into one meatgrinder after another, in the hope they would die gloriously for the Emperor, far away from important theaters of conflict.

 

Incidentally, I have never seen that Abhumans fanwork, and it seems solid-I would probably use that, but remove the bonus to Fellowship and option to add +3 to it; remove a few talents from their path, if present-like Air of Authority, Iron Discipline, Master Orator and Whispers; instead add either Fearless or Nerves of Steel/Unshakable Faith.

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I take NO real credit for this one. The entire basis of it was off Lightbringer's design...i think ( its been a few years so im a bit fuzzy ) i edited a few items there for better balance and accuracy to the accepted design idea.. but...

Also bear in mind this was done before we had access to the supplements by Lodge so...

 
Written by Lightbringer        
During the last years of the 39th millennia, the Imperium was blessed with the birth of a great hero. From humble origins, this military genius united hundreds of sectors, brought peace to countless systems, and culminated his extraordinary career by raising a truly vast army and conquering a thousand worlds in the western reaches. This extraordinary individual is known to history as Lord Solar Macharius. His life, and his tragic death under mysterious circumstances are legendary in the Imperium, though his reputation is tainted by the collapse of his conquered territories following his death during the later Macharian Heresy.
Within two hundred years of his death, the first Afrieli strain Guardsmen appeared. The product of an Imperial weapons research project so secretive that to this day only the highest adepts of Terra are aware of its full implications, its aim was to produce super-soldiers, genetically screened to ensure utter loyalty and reliability.

The intention was not to create rivals to the great Adeptus Astartes, but to create stable and utterly self-sacrificing abhuman infantrymen who could hold territory in circumstances that would represent a grave threat to the moral purity of “normal” troops.

Skirting dangerously close to tech-heresy, the mysterious creators of the strain took the base genetic template of Lord Solar Macharius and adjusted certain markers to reflect desirable genetic traits from a number of other heroic “donors.” Sergeant Cassius Grale, who marched 300 miles in two nights carrying his injured commanding officer across the high-grav plains of Astaban IV, under fire all the way, provided genetic information for the cardiac and muscular markers. Commissar Rakken, sole survivor of the Vaniette Plains massacre provided genetic data linked to personality and mental stamina. Other highly decorated heroes of the Macharian crusade contributed the DNA code sequences which enabled desirable traits linked to reflex time, perception, eyesight and the like to be coded into the strain.

The Afrieli strain’s creators lacked the awesome technological facilities the Emperor himself had possessed when he created the Adeptus Astartes. They were not able to create Astartes geneseed, so the piecemeal genetic template they had painstakingly stitched together had to be imprinted on blank human ova and either grown in Vitae-Womb tanks, or implanted in womb-servitors, mindwiped human females used solely to act as birth mothers for the infant Afrielis. All Afrielis were created as albinos in order to aid battlefield identification and prevent easy desertion into local human populations.

The resulting children were genetically human, but were so obviously genegineered that they have always been classed as abhuman by the Imperium. They were trained from birth in specialist Departmento Munitorum facilities in their duties. Raised solely into the Imperial Creed, with an emphasis upon self sacrifice and loyalty, they became amongst the most fanatical and devoted servants the Emperor possessed.

Finally, armed with a uniquely created genetic code, a lifetime’s worth of training, and the best military equipment available, the first regiment of Afrieli strain Guardsmen marched to war under the banner of the Imperium.

The experiment was a failure.

Initial results were overwhelmingly successful: the Afrielis were, as anticipated, utterly remorseless and without fear. They obeyed any order, no matter how horrific or pointless. They fought without breaking against Daemonic opponents, and never asked for or offered any quarter. However, they seemed to be dogged by the most hideous bad luck: half the first regiment was wiped out when its heavy lander crashed under freakish circumstances, and the remainder gradually starved to death during the Frenella Daemonic incursion war when a Departmento Munitorum clerical error sent them sunscreen rather than rations.

The second regiment was lost in the warp and the third were killed during the infamous Rashan dropsite massacre of M41 255. By the time the fourth regiment was lost when their Chartered vessel suffered a warp drive implosion, dark rumours about the Afrieli strain being cursed began to spread. In the superstitious and backward 41st millennium, such rumours rapidly developed a life of their own. Inquisitors descended upon the facilities devoted to the creation of the Afrielis, and many of the scientists responsible for their inception were racked and burned at the stake.

Now, very few Afrielis remain. Some technologically advanced Imperial worlds still retain their genetic template, and occasionally raise Afrieli regiments in the old manner, but these are rare. Ironically, the principle users of Afrielis are the Inquisition. Many Ordo Malleus Inquisitors value the loyalty and spiritual fortitude of Afrielis, and many historically minded Inquisitors of other Ordos enjoy having acolytes who bear the genes – however diluted – of the great Lord Solar Macharius himself.

Creating an Afrieli character

Afrielis are unique, having a background and childhood totally different to anyone else in the Imperium. Raised from birth in military training schools, and having had a uniquely grim interpretation of the (already grim) Imperial creed drilled into them, they are always going to be a little odd. As such, the normal hiveworld/feral world/Imperial world/voidborn rules do not apply to them. The rules below replace the rules set out on p13-21 of the DH rulebook.

Afrieli Traits
Afrielis all have the following traits. Record all these on your character sheet:

Cursed
For reasons no-one has ever fully understood Afrielis, especially large groups of Afrielis, seem to have the most appalling bad luck. Roll a D6:-

1-2: Halve the number of fate points your character has, rounding down. Thus a roll of 1 fate point means you have no fate points and a roll of 3 fate points means you have only 1. Use the Imperial world part of the chart on p28 to determine the number of fate points.

3-4 Health problems. There has been some fault in replicating your genetic code over the years. You are more prone to cancers and other related problems. Every time you advance a career rank, roll a d10. If you roll a 1 or 2, you have developed a debilitating cancer. This will not immediately affect play, but between sessions you will be diagnosed with a medical problem that will involve painful and unpleasant treatment. Lose 1 wound permanently, and again each time you roll a 1 or 2 on advancing ranks.

5-6 Mental problems. Some fault in your genetic code makes you have a slightly tenuous grasp on reality. Every time you advance a career rank, roll a d10. If you roll a 1 or 2, you have developed a minor mental problem. Gain 1d5 insanity points.

Blessed Ignorance
(as the Imperial worlder trait on page 19 of the DH rulebook)

Odd
Afrielis are odd, even by the standards of Imperial warriors. They all look alike (they are all in effect identical twins, having been created from the same genetic template, though minor variations due to conditions in the womb are common), they are not used to dealing with people, and they see everything in quasi religious/military terms. This makes them unsettling and intimidating to normal people. Afrielis gain the Intimidate skill, but take a -10 penalty on all fellowship tests involving non-Afrielis.

And they shall know no fear….
Afrielis have been genetically designed to have no fear of anything. This is a less subtle process than that used to create similar fortitude in the Astartes: Afrielis are simply brainwashed from birth to be faithful and not to value their own lives. Their genetic code also renders them immune to battle shock and post traumatic stress disorder.
Afrielis gain the Fearless and Insanely Faithful Traits.

Cruel Military upbringing
Afrielis have a wider range of military skills than most guardsmen. This is a product of their intensive training from birth.
The character gains the Swim, Literacy and Navigation (surface) skills. However, they are all sterilised at birth, so also gain the chem-geld trait as well.

Afrielis grow up on harsh military bases, and have amongst the best medical treatment in the galaxy. This toughens them up, and provides superb military training but makes them naïve and unworldly. Generate characteristics for them using the following chart, which replaces table 1-3 on p 23 of the rulebook:-

Table 1-3: Generating characteristics
Homeworld modifiers
Characteristic Base Afrieli
Weapon Skill (WS) 2d10+ 20
Ballistic Skill (BS) 2d10+ 25
Strength (S) 2d10+ 20
Toughness (T) 2d10+ 25
Agility (Ag) 2d10+ 20
Intelligence (Int) 2d10+ 20
Perception (Per) 2d10+ 20
Willpower (WP) 2d10+ 20
Fellowship (Fel) 2d10+ 10

When determining the career path for an Afrieli, you are going to be very limited. They are born to be soldiers, pure and simple.

However, now and again, for reasons no one can truly understand, a female Afrieli is born. It is unknown how this is even possible, but on the rare occasion it does, they are usually earmarked for specialist black ops work. Thus, to replace table 1-4, career paths, simply roll a d100. On a roll of 01-99, the character is a male guardsman. On a roll of 00, the character is a female assassin.

When rolling for wounds, treat Afrielis as Feral worlders for the purposes of table 1-6.

Thereafter rollup the character as normal.

When rolling up your character’s appearance, however, you again are going to be rather limited. All Afrielis have white albino skin, white hair and red eyes. In fact, the eyes of an Afrieli are completely red, having no “white” at all. Many humans find this disturbing. They are all of slightly above average height, (ranging from 5’9” to 5’11”) but are well built and muscular (around 75-80kgs).

Disturbingly, they all have the face of Lord Solar Macharius, which is recognisable from thousands of portraits and statues across the Imperium…


Design notes: I haven’t invented Afrielis, 40k anoraks will know that they featured in a White Dwarf a while back, and also in a Black Library “Last Chancers” book by Gav Thorpe. I have to admit I haven’t read the book, only the WD article, but I loved the concept and used it to create this article. I have tried to make the background of the Afrielis to be as “open” as possible, so as to deal with any inevitable GW retconning. If you don’t like my history of the Afrielis, please feel free to re-write it for your own games, I never claim any moral rights over any of my stuff, use as you see fit! (That applies to anyone who wants to put this on their website - feel free to do so!)

The Afrielis are hardcore acolytes, combat specialists. I have tried to balance them out by making them odd, cursed and sterile, but you should be aware that they’re going to be probably the toughest combatant in the group. I think however that they are tremendously characterful and interesting. They could create good roleplaying opportunities, too. I always saw them as being quite gentle and childlike in many ways, until a fight kicks off. Imagine an albino Jason Bourne! I hope you enjoy using them, and remember…the Emperor protects!

Optional rules by Schoon:
I'm not sure that the Cursed trait does quite enough. For skills and traits, I envisioned something more like:

Racial Enmity
For reasons no one can adequately explain, most humans feel an instinctive animosity towards Afriel Strain.
Penalty: Afriel Strain suffer a -10 penalty to all Fel-based tests when dealing with other humans.

Scion of Heroes
Through a combination of favourable genetics and training, Afriel Strain have an ability to conquer fear comparable to the Adeptus Astartes, and martial skills equal to the Imperium’s greatest champions.
Benefit: Afriel Strain gain the Fearless Trait, as well as the Ambidextrous and Lightning Reflexes Talents.

Unlucky
Defying both probability and the best analytical attempts of the Magos Rationarius, Afriel Strain possess abysmal luck.
Penalty: On any failed test where the die roll is doubles (66, 88, 00 etc.), the GM may interpret the failure in a particularly ill-fated manner.     

 

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