Happy Easter for all those who celebrate it, and a happy Sunday for everyone else. We’re continuing on with the sneak peeks of some of the new weapons being introduced in the Fort Alice Sourcebook. While we’re holding back the larger amount of materials for the Saurids for the book following, we’ve still got a few tidbits sprinkled in here and there, and this week’s post is going to take a look at one of them.
You might think it’s a bit odd for a Saurid weapon to show up in a series about guns, and you’d be right, this is another oddball. It’s an interesting one though, and one that I think will not only add some flavor to your game, but also helps to flesh out some more of the Saurids’ ingenuity and methodologies for staying on par with their more advanced opponents while still sticking to their low tech philosophies.
So without further ado, I give you the Ant Cannon.
Base Damage: 5*
Success Bonus: +1*
Rate of Fire: 1
Short Range: 50
Long Range: 100
Availability: Very Rare***
*Base Damage and Success Bonus only cover damage from the initial projectile. See description below for subsequent damage based on the types of ants used.
**Equivalent estimated price in British currency. The Saurids will rarely trade directly with British currency.
***Only availabe within Saurid settlements, item is not traded openly with British merchants.
Description: There are a number of particularly nasty varieties of ants in the Gruv, and the Saurids are not above using them in a fight. They’re known to construct traps near a Galavant or Nallshpritzter nest. For the former, it typically captures a dozen or more and contains them in a naturally-rubberized sack. For the latter, the ants are so big they can only fit one into the launcher, and use a sack that resists the corrosive effects of their acid. Loaded into a hollowed log, the biological ammunition is launched at their enemies through pneumatic force. Kistalmi will use mechanical pump, whereas others will task an air elemental.
Game Mechanics: The cannon is fired using the Artillery skill. As Saurids do not utilize artillery in their culture, they may use their Ranged Weapons skill instead. Each sack contains 10+2d6 Galavants (See page 374 of the 1879 Game Master’s Guide) or a single Nallshpritzer (page 396 of the 1879 Game Master’s Guide). They will remain alive in the sack for up to a week. Targeting a person requires an extra success, but all of the ants will attack that target. Targeting a specific 5 yard-diameter area has a TN of 8. On a miss, the ants land 5 yards in a random direction.
The ants inside the projectile will make their Attack tests on an Initiative of 1 in the round that it is fired. Refer to the type of ants used for specifics on resolving their actions.
While the projectile will do damage to a target, that’s really more of an afterthought. The point is to let the ants loose to do the work for you.
You can either fire directly at a target, or use this to essentially trap an area at a distance, making it a great option for controlling specific areas on a battlefield. The strategic thinkers will likely be able to come up with all sorts of useful situations for these options.
Let’s also take a look at the effects the different ants have.
On a hit on an individual, all of the Galavants attack the target. Instead of resolving each attack individually, make a Lightning test with a bonus equal to the number of ants in the bag. For each success, make a damage test with a +3 bonus, as the ants coordinate to release their charges. For example, if there are three Successes, make three Step 11 Damage Tests. The ants remain in the area, with all of their lightning expended.
If an area is targeted or if the ants remain in an area after targeting an individual, treat a 5 yard-diameter area where the ants landed as trapped for 5 rounds. Anyone who enters the area must make a Danger Sense test against the ants’ Initiative; if the test fails, they are attacked. Resolve as with targeting an individual. If they have expended their Lightning, roll a Bite Attack with a bonus equal to the number of ants. For each success, roll standard bite damage once. For example, if there are 3 Successes, roll Step 6 damage 3 times.
The Game Master rolls randomly with a 50/50 chance of getting either a worker or a soldier Nallshpritzer.
On a hit on an individual, the Nallshpritzer detonates. Make an Acid Spray as normal in addition to the normal projectile damage. Resolve the venom as normal. On a miss, or if an area is targeted, the ant will remain in the area as hostile and will attack the nearest target on its Initiative using its Acid Spray ability.
It would also be entirely feasible to trap other critters of equivalent size and use them as projectiles, and the Gruv certainly has all sorts of nasty little buggers (some of which are actually bugs) that would be quite unpleasant to suddenly have launched at your face. Any particular ones you’d like to see used? Any home brew creatures in your campaign that you think the Saurids might make use of? Let us know in the comments below or on Discord.
That’s all for this Sunday. Tune in next week for the next installment!