Wednesday, December 25, 2019

SOS: Do you believe in a Smiling God? (part 1)

Strexcorp Synergist Incorporated, or more simply Strexcorp, is a hypercorporation that spans the Birova sector, being concentrated on the Planet of [expunged].  It first broke the inter-planetary boundary in 4078, making it a rather new corporation.  Strexcorp has made up for their novice status through clever maneuverability and ruthless practices.  Their CEOs seem almost prescient, able to predict the movement of the Sector markets and compensate for things that haven't happened yet.  Rumors of insider trading and corruption have swirled around this corporation for decades, mostly because of this. 

Strexcorp is also clothed in dark rumors about its other practices.  The Executives are said to maintain a terrifyingly large assassin cadre, a fact that puts the first few of Strexcorp's acquisitions into a new light, as most of those lesser corporations suffered from the deaths of their founder or a major partner just days or weeks before a deal was struck.  Strexcorp Security has also proven itself to be particularly ruthless, breaking strikes and crushing opposition by workers with ruthless efficiency.

Yet despite these facts, most of Strexcorp's employees seem happy enough- too happy, even.

                                                             source unknown

The Happy Church

Another odd thing about Strexcorp is that it has an official company religion.  The Church of the Smiling God is in many ways the public face of Strexcorp, as it is what most people who know anything about Strexcorp, besides the quality of their sugary drinks and anti-depressants, think about first.  However, experts on the company insist that it is the other way around; Strexcorp Synergist Incorporated exists to serve the Church of the Smiling God. 

The Church of the Smiling God itself is a mystery cult, with doctrine being concealed and divided into layers.  Only those deemed worthy can ascend to the next level.  However, some facts are known about the Church.

Firstly, the Church of the Smiling God is monotheistic, devoted to the worship of the Smiling God, who is believed to be a real entity.

Secondly, the Smiling God is said to desire everyone to work hard and be happy.  He will protect you and keep you safe, if it is his will.  No one really knows exactly what his will is though.  Clerics in the Church of the Smiling God claim to know it and some of the high-level ones have some idea.  The Children of the Smiling God claim with absolute certainty to know the will of their "Father". 

Regardless of this ignorance, it is assumed by most, and taught by the Church that it is the Smiling God's will that we do what he wills and avoid what he denigrates.  To shirk your duties or to show sadness is considered contrary to his will, though the latter is usually considered a small transgression. 

Thirdly, some of the Clerics of the Smiling God are said to be able to perform miracles, such as traveling great distances instantly, blinding the unrighteous, afflicting the enemies of the Church with disease and predicting the future.  There is no evidence for these miracles, but some of the higher-level congregation swear they have been to secret masses where they have seen such feats and most of the laity seem to take it on faith. 

Fourthly, the Smiling God's enemies are also detailed by the faithful.  Chief among these are the Caged, who are described as creatures who do not smile due to their enslavement; the Heeled, who do not smile due to their appetites; the Splintered, who do not smile due to their passivity; and the Lucid, who smile too much.

Brown-Nosing


Advancing up the ladder at Strexcorp requires you to be a member of the Church of the Smiling God and to move up within the Church.  Certain positions are restricted to those who have the right amount of religious knowledge and/or proved their devotion to their God.  

As such, while not all Strexcorp employees are actually worshipers of the Smiling God, the higher up the corporate ladder you go, the more likely someone will be.

<Referee's Note>

An Employee of Strexcorp has a X-in-20 chance of being a worshiper of the Smiling God, where X is equal to the number of HD he has.  Frowners, Clerics and Children are automatically worshipers. 

A worshiper of the Smiling God gains the following ability:

Saves: Agents of the Smiling God are ludicrously lucky.  When forced to roll a save, they instead roll a d6.  On a 2-6, count that as a successful save.  The Agents are also hard to kill; if they take fatal damage, they may roll a save.  On a success, they survive with 1 HP.  This can only apply in situations where it is possible for them to survive without bending the laws of reality.  Note that even if they survive, they are still likely to suffer some kind of terrible injury. 

</Referee's Note>
 
Merely maintaining your position is actually quite difficult as well, as Strexcorp is a highly unforgiving work environment. Conformity is encouraged, along with discipline.  Employees exercise together, live together in dorms segregated by sex and caste and participate in Church-mandated feast days together. 

Alongside these facts, Strexcorp Security and the Frowners are always watching, looking for anyone who isn't working hard enough, or is engaged in forbidden actions, using forbidden words, expressing illegal opinions or does not appear sufficiently happy.  When these unfortunate souls are found they are either publicly punished, made into a Conditional Laborer, or they simply vanish and are never seen or heard from again.    

Employee Handbook:


                                            by Jjeons Kim

Corporate Security

These men are the boots on the ground, so to speak.  They enforce the will of the Board of Stewards.  They seem to revel in violence, glorying in it.  They are highly disciplined soldiers, equipped with high-quality blink rifles and given carte blanche to do almost anything. 

Statblock:


Strexcorp Security
HD 1  AC as armor  Atk as weapon
Mor 12 or less  Saves special (see below)

Tactics:
- Be relentlessly cheery
- Refuse to acknowledge the possibility of defeat
- Fight with fanatic bravery
- Always try to take them alive

Arms and Armor:


Strexcorp Security Officers usually wear no armor on Company property, but their training still gives them an AC of 11.  When in a situation that is somewhat dangerous, they wear diffusion vests (armor meant to protect against lasers), giving them an AC of 13 + the chance of reducing a laser shot.  When going in to crack some skulls they wear either diffusion vests or a ceramic plate vest over body armor 14 + the chance of reducing the damage from a laser/SP weapon.

In low intensity situations, Strexcorp Security Officers carry Civitas Laser Pistols, which do 1d8 fire damage (firearm rules apply, see here).  They also usually carry stun batons, which do 1d4 damage + 1d6 temporary DEX damage from the electric shock.  If this damage reduces someone to zero DEX, they cannot move faster then a slow walk and operate as if they had a DEX of 3.  This DEX damage returns at a rate of 1 point a minute you are not being electrocuted.   In more dangerous situations, they carry Hamburg Laser Rifles, which do 2d6 fire damage (see above) and Chastener Batons, which are little more than solid bars of metal with handles attached- they do 1d6+STR damage on a hit.

When a larger group (greater than 4, or a prepared group) is required, Strexcorp Security Officers will also carry:

- A wire Net-Launcher that can be electrified, 1 of them will carry a battery that can be attached to the metal net.
- Meat Hook Grappling Gun.  Fires a spiked harpoon that is designed to impale flesh and latch onto armor or bone.  Usually attached to a line so the person hit can be reeled in. 
- Caltrop Cannon.  An air-powered cannon that can fire a wave of Caltrops, scattering them over a 50' square area.  This is hilariously lethal, for obvious reasons.  It does 3d6 damage fired like this.  It can also be used to fire blasts of hard rubber balls, which bruise and cause pain, but are non-lethal (3d6 non-lethal damage).

                                                      by Chuck Walton

Strexcorp's Armored Infantry Corps, the Last-Chancers

When an employee, Debtor or enemy of Strexcorp is on the verge of death, and nothing can be done besides putting what is left of their shattered form into a suspension tube and hoping for the best, a company representative will come forward and ask them if they want a Second Chance.  Those who accept are given it, those that aren't are immediately taken off life-support, given brief funerals, then recycled.  This dual path is explained clearly to the person being given the choice.  Most choose the former.  Even in agony, most desire to live.

Those who desire to continue living are placed into specially designed suits of powered armor, fitted with not only with life-support meant to keep them alive, but also plenty of dangerous toys.  These men and women are then inducted into Strexcorp's Armored Infantry Corps.  Corpsmen of this unit have their powered armor outfitted with high-intensity blink weapons, small missiles, grenade launchers, incinerators and occasionally, powerful melee weapons.  Even without that though, the powered armor enhances the strength of the Last-Chancer, meaning he or she can pull someone limb from limb as easily as you can crack open a cold beer.

The problem with the Last-Chancers are two-fold.  Firstly, Strexcorp is cheap.  The powered armor that is modified to give the critically injured a second chance is not of the highest quality, with the modifications usually worsening any problems that do exist.  This leads to vulnerabilities, ensuring that a Strexcorp Corpsmen is not as dangerous as someone with a suit of powered armor that has been properly maintained. 

That being said, the second problem is that there aren't enough of them.

Statblock:

Strexcorp Armored Infantry Corpsmen
HD 1d4+2  AC 16  Atk Fists (+3, 1d8) or Weapon (varies, see below)
Mor 13 or less   Saves 10 or less is a success

Powered Armor: Corpsmen wear powered armor, meaning they receive a -4 penalty to stealth unless they are in an environment too loud to notice them, such as a battlefield.  They also receive a +4 bonus to saves that might be easier if you were encased in layers of ceramite and servos.  They receive a matching penalty if what they are attempting would be more difficult for someone wearing powered armor.  For purposes of STR checks and barehanded damage, they have a STR of 18(+3). 

Weakspot: Corpsmen Armor is also cheaper and generally more degraded than most suits of Power Armor.  The modifications to it certainly do not help matters.  As such, all Corpsmen have a weakness, a hidden vulnerability in their suits.  If exploited, this weakness can permanently cripple or kill a Corpsmen.  To determine what the vulnerability of a specific Corpsmen's suit is, roll on the Weakspot table below.

Irregular Loadout: Corpsmen do not have a standardized loadout, but they are all armed.  To determine what a Corpsmen is carrying in terms of arms, roll on the Loadout table below.

Tactics:
- If carrying a melee weapon, wait for covering fire then flank
- If carrying a ranged weapon, fire at the most critical target
- Do not take needless risks

Weakspot Table
1d6

1- Cracked Fusion Core.  AC 10, Damage Threshold 6.  A most dangerous malfunction.  If struck, the Corpsmen must save.  On a failure, the core immediately begins going critical and 1 round later, it explodes, doing 5d6 damage to anyone within 1d6*10', save for half.  On a failure, nothing happens, but the Corpsmen must immediately check Morale.
2- Leaking Leg Servo.  AC 12, Damage Threshold 8.  The servos embedded in one of the legs of the Corpsmen's suit is dribbling, meaning its external casing is broken.  If damaged, the Corpsmen must immediately save.  On a failure, the servo is broken and one of Corpsmen's legs is disabled, making movement impossible.  On a success, the servo is still functional, but the Corpsmen must immediately check Morale or retreat.
3- Sealed Suit.  AC as normal, Damage Threshold 12.  The Corpsmen's suit is clearly designed to resemble a suspension pod.  If the suit can be breached, even in a small way, the Corpsmen must immediately save or die.  Even on a successful save, a Corpsmen who survives this is guaranteed to retreat, unless no escape route is available. 
4- Crumbling foam gel.  Only damageable by sharp melee weapons.  This suit's gel foam pads that support the ceramite plates of the armor is crumbling, causing the plates of the armor to thump into each other.  If someone were to stick a sharp object under them and use the blade the lever, the plates could potentially be pried loose, reducing the Corpsmen's AC by 1 point.  Every time a Corpsmen's AC is reduced, he must check Morale or flee. 
5- Exposed Control Cables.  AC 18 for ranged, 15 for melee, immune to blunt damage.  Some of the cable fibers that link the armor's various movement and computer systems together have become visible.  If damaged, this disables 1dX [1= The Head, Corpsman cannot turn it; 2= Right Arm; 3= Left Arm; 4= Left Leg; 5= Right Leg; 6= Life-support, Corpsmen must spend an action to redirect the Armor's commands through one of the redundant systems.  Every round he does not do this, he must save or die.]
6- Visor Replacement.  AC 16, 1d3 targets.  The visor on this suit of Armor was removed and replaced with several cameras, loacated in various places on the suit.  If destroyed, the Corpsmen would be effectively blind. 

Loadout Table
1d12

1- Fists.  As per the Statblock.  The Corpsmen can make two fist attacks though.
2- Great Weapon, Primitive.  One attack that does 1d8+3 damage. 
3- Barbed Whip, Primitive.  The Corpsmen can make two attacks that does 1d6 damage each, or he can choose to grapple his target on a hit.
4- Gauntlet Blades.  The Corpsmen can make two attacks, each one dealing 1d6+3 damage.  These are the larger type of blades.
5- Shock Maul.  The Corpsmen can make 1 attack, doing 1d6+STR damage + 1d6 electric damage.  If the electric damage would reduce someone to zero, it instead reduces them to 1 HP and stuns them until they pass a DEX saving throw.
6- Autoaxe.  The Corpsmen can make 1 attack, doing 1d10+STR damage. 
7- Light Stubber.  The Corpsmen can make 1 attack, doing 1d10 damage, save vs firearm.  The Corpsmen can also lay down suppressing fire with this weapon. 
8- Incinerator.  The Corpsmen does damage in a 10' wide, 30' long line with this weapon.  The gel this weapon sprays is highly flammable and dangerous, water will not extinguish it (unless its an incredibly large amount of high-pressure), though submerging someone in water will scrape it off them.
9- WASAP Missile Launcher.  1 shot does 4d6 damage in a 30' range, save for half.  The Corpsmen must then take an action to reload.  The Corpsmen also only has 1d4 shots available with this weapon.
10- Meat Hammer Shotgun.  This weapon is a favorite from a desperate, backwater world you never want to visit.  It is basically three shotguns lashed tied together and fired simultaneously.  It kicks like a stampede and is barely usable by a normal person.  Even the Corpsmen have a bit of trouble with it.  Also, an absolute pain to reload.  Does 4d6 damage at close range, 2d6 at medium range and 1d6 at long range, save vs firearm. 
11- Impaler.  1 shot does 3d6 damage.  Requires a full action to reload.  Fires a spike of metal as long as your arm.  Does sharp, or maybe blunt damage.
12- Laser Array.  Can make four laser rifle attacks, all against different targets.  A bundle of Blink Rifles wired together to fire in a wave.  Hideously inaccurate, but good at laying down suppressing fire.

                                                      by Darkodev

Debtors or Interns or CLs (Conditional Laborers)

Hypercorporations did not become the way they are by spending money where it was not necessary.  Thus, like all their competitors and rivals, Strexcorp keeps its workforce to a minimum.  The majority of the workers, in Strexcorp mines or farms or factories, are actually the employees of local franchises.  These franchises receive mandates and decrees, as well as the relevant equipment to continue functioning from the Corporate Headquarters, who provide them with protection and legitimacy.  In exchange, the franchises shoulder the majority of the labor cost, but get to keep some of the profit, as long as HQ gets their cut. 

These chains of obedience and fealty are usually life-long, but occasionally, they break.  A franchisee cannot make his payments or violates something in the Corporate Charter and is dragged before a Oath Court, or perhaps an employee owes, either a franchisee or the Company itself, an extensive amount of money and end up being forced to sign a very cruel contract, along with promising to pay back what they owe.  Regardless of how it begins, the Debtors are essentially the slaves of the holder of their contracts.  They usually retain a few basic rights and treatment isn't universally horrible, but it is generally more unpleasant than even the most menial of the employee.

Strexcorp is infamous for its use of Debtors, as it uses them not only as a means of recouping a loss, but also of punishment.  Those who refuse to "put on a happy face" will be reprimanded, then punished and if that doesn't work, made CLs. Debts are usually racked up based on the "lost productivity" the employee caused by misbehaving and until that sum is paid down, the employee will find themselves the property of their once employer.  These CLs can often be seen in Strexcorp facilities, performing pointless or bizarre tasks in public, such as cleaning in between floor tiles with a toothbrush, selling useless products or propositioning passer-bys for company-sponsored proposition.  This is meant as a constant reminder of what fate awaits those who defy the will of Strexcorp.    

All Debtors are kept in line through the promise of eventual freedom, mixed with punishments of various types.  Strexcorp is particularly insidious with its CLs, implanting them with small, remote-controlled electrical emitters that are wired into the brain-stem of the Debtor.  These devices do not allow mind-control or for the handlers to read the thoughts of the CLs, as the propaganda the Debtors are fed claims.  Instead, these devices have a far more insidious purpose.  They are loaded with drugs that can be injected via remote control.  The most common type of drug is called "Hapi" and it produces feelings of euphoria, empathy and enhanced sensation.  Strexcorp uses this to reshape its Debtors, addicting them to these drugs and making them never desire to leave.  Many of these Debtors will be so addicted after they have paid off their debt that they will remain under the protection of Strexcorp, in exchange for just another hit.

Some Debtors, particularly those who seem especially pliable or those trained in violence, sometimes end up being sent to fight the company's battles.  These Debtors are loaded with remote injectors that pump them full of combat drugs  Pity these poors souls - and shoot to kill. 

Statblock:  

Combat Debtor
HD 1/2  AC 10/13  Atk Laser Pistol 1d8/Pistol 1d8 (enemies get +4 bonus to saves) or Combat Knife (+1, 1d6/1d6)
Mor  5/15 or less      Saves 7 or less is a success

Drug Injector: Combat Debtors have small, discreet devices stuck into the backs of their necks.  These devices can be yanked out if a successful attack is made against AC 16.  The devices are single-shot, and can only be used once before needing to be replaced.  If they are removed before the injection is made, then the Combat Debtor can never utilize the bonuses of the 'Combat Drugs' ability.  Once injected, these drugs last for 1d4+2 rounds.

Combat Drugs: When injected with their combat drugs, Combat Debtors use the numbers on the right side of the "/".  These d

Tactics:
- Be cowardly and sniveling until the drugs are injected
- Then fight like wild-men
- Let the others give you cover then sprint in close to stab the enemy up

                                                         from here

Invictives

"Forward!  Forward!  What are you, afraid?"

Invictives are the servants of the Smiling God, the public face of the ministry.  They are warrior-priests, battling brothers in arms, clad in glittering armor and carrying oversized weapons.  While most of the Priests of the Smiling God focus on his kind eyes or his wide, blinding teeth, the Invictives speak of his protection, of how he brings victory through the subjugation of their enemies.  They demand that others give over their fears, so that the Smiling God can slurp them up.  The Invictives demand nothing short of heroism of their charges - and they are usually willing to provide. 

Invictives fight ferociously when called upon, but more then that, their strength lies in their ability to motivate and inspire the common ranks of Strexcorp soldiers to heroic acts of courage and self-sacrifice. 

They are an unsophisticated bunch, but a blunt instrument is sometimes necessary.

Statblock:

Invictive
HD 2  AC 13  Atk Blink Pistol (1d8/1d8, save vs firearm) or Buzzsword (+3, 1d8+1)
Mor 16 or less      Saves special

Saves: Agents of the Smiling God are ludicrously lucky.  When forced to roll a save, they instead roll a d6.  On a 2-6, count that as a successful save.  The Agents are also hard to kill; if they take fatal damage, they may roll a save.  On a success, they survive with 1 HP.  This can only apply in situations where it is possible for them to survive without bending the laws of reality.  Note that even if they survive, they are still likely to suffer some kind of terrible injury. 

Buzzblade: It takes a free action to start up a Buzzsword's engine, though this free action cannot be done in melee combat. While the Buzzsword is running, the Invictive fails any attempt at stealth.

Exemplar of Courage: While an Invictive is visible or not fleeing himself, all Strexcorp soldiers can reroll failed Morale checks.

Combat Maneuvers: Invictives are also skilled at noticing weaknesses in an enemy's defenses and are good at coordinating attacks.  To see what strategy an Invictive decides to use, roll on the Combat Maneuvers table below.

Tactics:
- Use Combat Maneuvers
- Provide an example to inspire courage
- Always be on the front lines

Combat Maneuvers
1d6

1- Strike the Flanks.  Have the majority of allies lay down cover fire and pin the enemy where they are, then lead a small team around to the side to attack them where they are unprotected.
2- Retreat then Encircle.  Stage a false retreat, then when the enemy chases after you, let them over-extend then surround and eliminate them.
3- Hammer and Anvil.  Split your forces into two and have one group move around to behind the enemy while the other takes cover and remains immobile, to force the enemy to stay where they are.  Then, cursh the enemy between your two forces.
4- Piecemeal.  Attack, then retreat.  Stalk the enemy, firing occasionally, but never from outside cover.  Minimize risk to yourself while hurting the enemy as much as possible.  This tactic is only to be used against a superior enemy.
5- Barrage.  Have your soldiers fire their blink rifles in a wave, laying down suppressing fire.  Then slowly advance on the enemy.  Keep a small number of soldiers not doing this.  When they get close, have them burst in on the enemy and cut them down, while they are still worried about the barrage.
6- Blockade.  Have the soldiers dig in and wait.  Let them come to you and dash themselves against your defenses.  If you are not found wanting, you will endure while they perish. 

                                                            by Jakub DK

Frowning Men or Frowners or Weepers

The Office for Spiritual Development and Moral Progress is an official sub-organization attached to the Church of the Smiling God.  It is a secret organization, but anyone who has been at Strexcorp for any amount of time has seen their work.  When managers or co-workers suddenly disappear without a trace; when a small establishment in the company town is suddenly shut down and burned to the foundations; when a kill-team of heavily armed, masked men in white-washed body armor and opaque face masks bearing the knife-slash of a humorless smirk, it is always the work of the Weepers.

The Weepers, or Frowners, or Frowning Men, these are all just a handful of names attributed to the Religious Police deployed by the Church of the Smiling God.  They are the militant arm of the Church, deployed to find sinners, traitors and deviants hiding among the Strexcorp labor force.  They are everywhere, operating in total secrecy.  Occasionally a group of Weepers can be seen wearing their uniforms and masks, but this is a rare occurence.  Most often, they are little more than an unsaid rumor, a nightmare that can be woken up from.  But they are everywhere and they're always watching.

The Weepers are most common on Strexcorp facilities or on any of the planetoids that the Company owns.  They scour the live feeds and recordings from the many millions of surveillance devices scattered all throughout Strexcorp holdings, looking for evidence of treason, deviance, impiety or lack of happiness.  Someone who does not act jovial in public or with others can be a target, though this is less common then the rumors say.  The most likely targets are those who violate the company charter or who speak ill of the Management, the Company or the Smiling God.  Strexcorp employees know that one must never say anything bad when discussing those subjects, for the Weepers are always watching. 

Along with their surveillance network, the Weepers also maintain vast webs of informants, who spy on their cohorts and report back any treasonous words or deeds.  Informing on your neighbor can be a good way to protect yourself, but it is no guarantee.  Too many people have been dragged into the night, screaming about how he was good, how he told the Weepers everything.  In the end, none of it mattered. 

The Weepers are said to wear masks because they shed bitter tears of regret for the things they must do to other members of the Strexcorp family.  Others say it is because behind those masks, they are grinning ear to ear.  But the darkest rumor, the one thought by many but rarely vocalized is that whatever is behind those masks is not human at all.

Statblock:

Weeper
HD 3  AC 15 (Diffusion-Tile Armor)  Atk Blink Rifle (2d6, save vs firearm) or Shock Gauntlet (+2, 1d6 electric/1d6 electric)
Mor 18 or less   Saves special

Saves: Agents of the Smiling God are ludicrously lucky.  When forced to roll a save, they instead roll a d6.  On a 2-6, count that as a successful save.  The Agents are also hard to kill; if they take fatal damage, they may roll a save.  On a success, they survive with 1 HP.  This can only apply in situations where it is possible for them to survive without bending the laws of reality.  Note that even if they survive, they are still likely to suffer some kind of terrible injury. 

Shock Gauntlet: If someone is grappled by someone wearing a shock gauntlet, they take 1d6 non-lethal electric damage every round, if the gauntlet wishes it so.  This continues until the person would be knocked below zero, in which case they instead drop to 1 HP and are stunned until they pass a DEX saving throw.

Diffusion Tile Armor: This armor can reduce the damage of one a laser shot a round by 1d12 damage, or reduce 1 shot by 12.  However, doing the latter prevents the wearer from using the damage reduction power of the armor until the tiles are replaced, and reduces AC by 1 point. 

Suicide Pills: Weepers know many secret pieces of information.  To prevent the secrets of the Smiling God and his mortal servants from ever escaping, Weepers carry suicide pills.  If one of them is in danger of being captured, have them make a Morale check.  On a success, they take a sucide pill.  Also, note that the power of the Smiling God is not so weak that a mere suicide pill could harm one of his servants, should he not wish it.  If the Smiling God has use for a Weeper, the suicide pill will not work. 

Tactics:
- Never go into a fire-fight without a plan
- Use terrain, surprise
- Focus fire on the most heavily armed/dangerous individual
- Use Shock Gauntlets to disable those who get too close
- Never be taken alive    

                                                       by daemonmac14

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