Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Krr'Gaal

Adeptus-B just won a a 'design-a-new-xeno' contest put on by The WH40KRP fansite Dark Reign! Below is his entry. Way to go Adeptus-B!

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THE KRR’GAAL
(Verminthiculius Belli)

Of all the noxious xenomorphs inhabiting what was once known as Dread Calix, none were more feared by early Imperial explorers than the infamous Yu’Vath. Compounding the sin of their very existence, in a galaxy rightfully belonging to the Sons of Terra, was the Yu’Vath’s unashamed worship of the Ruinous Powers. Advanced science and unspeakable sorcery combined to earn the Yu’Vath the status of Xenos Extremis in the eyes of the Inquisition. So serious was the threat posed by the Chaos-worshipping aliens that the placement of the home world of the Storm Wardens Space Marine Chapter was calculated specifically to serve as a bulwark against expansion by the Yu’Vath into Imperial territory.

The Yu’Vath must have realized that war with the encroaching Imperium was inevitable, and they prepared accordingly. In particular, they knew from their previous skirmishes with the Strom Wardens that they would need a weapon to counter the might of the Astartes. Toward that end, the Yu’Vath bent their blasphemous science to the task of genetically engineering lower animals into shock troops of unprecedented ferocity: bestial abominations that would come to be known as the Krr’Gaal.

When Lord Angevin launched his blessed Crusade to bring the Light of the Emperor to the benighted realm that would one day become the Calixis Sector, the Yu’Vath unleashed their genetically manipulated warriors. Imperial front-line troops reported contacts with great, hairy monstrosities wielding terrible warp-powered weapons, which tore through the ranks of Guardsmen with abandon. Allied Space Marines were deployed to counter this new threat, and they found themselves facing opponents truly worthy of their divine wrath. Inhumanly strong, seemingly immune to pain, and utterly fearless, these ferocious creatures proved to be a major stumbling block for the forces of the Crusade, requiring a massive commitment of resources- in both manpower and material- to overcome.

As the Crusade ground on, Imperial forces made a chilling discovery: the Yu’Vath had designed their customized shock troops to reproduce at an accelerated rate, replacing their battlefield losses almost as fast as they were incurred. Based on this discovery, the Magos Biologis studying the creatures on behalf of the Imperium dubbed the new xenos ‘Verminthiculius Belli’- war vermin. Although it was later learned that the creatures called themselves Krr’Gaal (undoubtedly a corruption of the actual name used for them by their Yu’Vath masters which is now lost to history), most Imperial leaders continue to refer to the hairy berserkers as Verminthiculians- partly as a ploy to bolster their troops’ morale by equating their enemy to mere vermin, and partly so as not to sully their tongues with the vile language of an accursed xeno-breed.

PHYSIOLOGY

Upon seeing a Krr’Gaal for the first time, one might assume that their appearance had been calculated specifically to intimidate opponents- and one would not be far wrong. An adult Krr’Gaal stands nearly three meters tall on its hind legs, with a barrel chest, massively muscled arms, and an elongated snout filled with long, needle-sharp teeth. The leathery skin of these creatures is blue-black, with most of their head and upper body covered with a thick rust-red mane.

There is very little difference between the sexes. Females are slightly larger than males, while males tend to have longer dew-claws on their hind legs. Both sexes have rows of nipples hidden within their manes and share breast-feeding responsibilities; their nipples produce protein-rich blood rather than milk to nourish their rapidly-growing offspring. A newborn Krr’Gaal reaches physical adulthood in just over one standard Imperial year.

Rapid growth is not the only trait which was clearly engineered by the Yu’Vath to enhance their servants’ performance on the battlefield. For instance, the Krr’Gaal’s thick hair secretes an oily substance which acts as a natural flame retardant- a trait highly unlikely to evolve naturally. Also, Krr’Gaal have elaborately hinged hips, which allow them to either walk bipedally, or to drop to all fours in order to gain the benefit of quadrupedal movement.

The Krr’Gaal have also been endowed with certain ingrained instincts that enhance their function as self-replicating warriors. These programmed instincts are not nearly as elaborate as the genetically engineered knowledge and culture of the Orks, but it is more than sufficient to ensure that these barbaric creatures excel in the arts of war, granting them an uncanny knack for wielding nearly any weapon they come across, and an innate grasp of battlefield tactics. More importantly (from their masters’ point of view), they have been bred with a natural eagerness to follow orders from those they perceive as their superiors.


CULTURE

With the fall of their thrice-damned masters, the Yu’Vath, those Krr’Gaal that survived the Angevin Crusade organized into tribal warbands. Having no innate interest in holding territory has resulted in the Krr’Gaal leading a nomadic existence by default. They have no real technology of their own, which has led to them seeking employment as mercenaries in order to acquire what they cannot produce themselves. They are not picky about who they work for: decadent Imperial nobles, Dark Eldar Archons, criminal syndicates, space pirates and- especially- Chaos reavers- all recognize the value of these fearless berserkers.

Interstellar transportation is almost always included in the asking price for the Krr’Gaal’s services, with the Krr’Gaal frequently negotiating to be taken to a wilderness planet after their term of service is complete. There, they create primitive camps and breed and birth their young; pick-up a year or two later at the same location is also arranged, usually involving a second tour of service by the newly-enlarged clan.

Some Krr’Gaal warbands enter into long-term partnerships with groups whose interests in battle and looting mirror those of the Krr’Gaal. This arrangement benefits both parties: the Krr’Gaal enjoy the benefits of access to voidfaring ships, and their allies’ activities are enhanced by the presence of a group of hairy giants wreaking havoc on the battlefront.

There are also instances of Krr'Gaal warbands seizing spacefaring vessels and using them to engage in raids against Imperial shipping. Since the barbaric xenos have no worthwhile understanding of how voidships operate, they enslave the existing crew, and get them to do the bidding of their new masters with threats of slow, gruesome deaths if they disobey. It speaks volumes of how intimidating an angry Krr'Gaal can be that their unwilling crew usually obey...

The Krr’Gaal continue to revere their long-dead masters, and have produced something of a makeshift religion that revolves around the supposed return of the Yu’Vath. Stories of their progenitors are handed down from generation to generation, and the Krr’Gaal attempt to duplicate their former masters’ warpcraft with ham-handed recreations of Chaos rituals, based on inaccurate descriptions passed down via verbal tradition. These rituals invariably fail to attract the attention of the Ruinous Powers- not only because they are performed incorrectly, but because the bestial Krr’Gaal, wrought from lower animals, do not have true souls with which to tempt warp entities. This fact is not known to the Krr’Gaal themselves, of course, and they would certainly not be pleased to learn the truth…

Devices created by their progenitors are viewed as sacred artifacts by the Krr’Gaal. In particular, the weapons created by the Yu’Vath for their elite shock troops- great polearms with a vibrating mono-edged halberd head at one end and a warp-focusing crystal set into the opposite end- are valued above all else by the modern Krr’Gaal. These artifacts, called chaak’thuul by the Krr’Gaal or ‘warp-pikes’ by members of the Ordo Xenos, serve as both melee and ranged weapons: the massive halberd head can cleave even Astartes armour, while the prism end can emit an arc of focused warp energy. Krr’Gaal will go to nearly any lengths to recover one of these ancestral objects, and a would-be employer who includes one procured from the Cold Trade as part of their payment will almost certainly be able to command a long term of service from a grateful tribe of Krr’Gaal.

(The following statistics were created for use with Deathwatch campaigns which use the Calixis Sector as an alternate setting; they would also be appropriate for Rogue Trader and high-Rank Dark Heresy games.)


KRR’GAAL (ELITE)

WS:50 BS:25 S:(10)55 T:65 Ag:40 Int:20 Per:(8)45 WP:35 Fel:15

MOVEMENT: 5/10/15/30

WOUNDS: 30

SKILLS: Awareness (Per), Climb (S), Intimidate (S), Lore: Forbidden (Warp) (Int), Navigation: Surface (Int) +20, Shadowing (Ag), Speak Language: Debased Yu’Vath; 50% chance of Low Gothic, 25% chance of Kroot (Int), Silent Move (Ag), Survival (Int) +20, Swim (S), Tactics: Assault Doctrine, Recon and Stealth (Int) +10, Tracking (Int) +20.

TALENTS: Ambidextrous, Autosanguine, Berserk Charge, Basic Weapon Training (Universal), Counter-Attack, Disturbing Voice, Exotic Weapon Training (Warp-Pike), Fearless, Hard Target, Heightened Senses (Smell), Iron Jaw, Jaded, Light Sleeper, Melee Weapon Training (Universal), Resistance (Poison, Psychic Powers), Wall Of Steel.

TRAITS: Fear 1 (Disturbing), Flame Resistant*, Multimodal**, Natural Armour (3), Natural Weapons (Teeth), Size (Hulking), Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Perception (x2).

*FLAME RESISTANT: This creature is treated as having Unnatural Toughness (x2) vs. damage inflicted by weapons with the Flame quality; tests made to resist catching on fire are made using the creatures’ (Unnatural, in this instance) Toughness rather than Agility.

**MULTIMODAL: If this creature’s hands are free, it may choose to move on all fours, gaining the benefit of the Quadruped Trait (doubling Agility Bonus for purposes of calculating Movement). It requires a Half Action to change from bipedal to quadrupedal or vice versa.

ARMOUR: None (3 All; Primitive)

WEAPONS: As provided by employer, or ancestral Warp-Pike:

Warp-Pike (Prism)- Class: Exotic (Basic), Range: 50m, RoF: 1, Dmg: 2d10, Pen: 0, Clip: Unlimited*, Rld: -, Special: Warp Weapon.

*This weapon draws power directly from the warp and cannot run out of ammunition; if a ‘jam’ result is rolled, it loses power for 1d10 rounds.

Warp-Pike (Blade)- Class: Exotic (Melee), Dmg: 1d10+18 (SB included), Pen: 4, Special: Balanced, Razor-Sharp.

GEAR: Leather pouch containing 1d5 days’ rations (usually in the form of dried meat), 2d10 coins, 1d5 knives of varying sizes, 5% chance of a Yu’Vath fetish item.

THREAT RATING: Xenos Moderatus

ADVENTURE SEED: Interrogation of a group of recently captured space pirates revealed that they were en route to a pre-arraigned pick-up of a tribe of Verminthiculians from an isolated Frontier World, who have just gone through a two-year breeding cycle. The Ordo Xenos was promptly informed…

The inspiration for these aliens came from a tiny fragment on page 258 of the Dark Heresy Rulebook- a tantalizing reference to ‘-Verminthiculians, wild mercenaries and reavers.’ After checking with Lexicanum to confirm that this was the only appearance of the name ‘Verminthicuculians’ in the 40Kverse, I decided to try adapting them for my campaign, but struggled with how to reconcile the root word ‘vermin’ in their name with the implication that they are clearly supposed to be daunting opponents. The breakthrough came when I realized that ‘Verminthiculian’ was clearly the Imperial name for the species, rather than what they called themselves- and thus the Krr’Gaal were born.

I find trying to ‘fill in the blanks’ created by the many oblique references scattered throughout the books to be one of the most challenging aspects of GMing aWH40KRP campaign. I hope my take on these xenos proves useful to some of my fellow Game Masters.

I use miniatures for most of the combats in my campaign; I was able to create a single prototype Krr’Gaal figure in time for the contest deadline. The basic figure is a Chaos Warhound, with the waist cut apart and repositioned to make a biped. The front legs were cut away and replaced with Ork arms, with hairy shoulders made from ‘green stuff’ used to mask the joints. I plan to make a number of others, including a quadruped and at least one wielding an Imperial weapon- I’ll probably use a plastic Necromunda Goliath arm for that.