Cataphracts

What is a Cataphract?

A Cataphract is a type of advanced Modular Suit that relies on what they call the Ghosting System. The Ghosting System is an intricate device that sits at the core of the Cataphract's nervous system, and is connected to the pilot by a mind-machine interface consisting of a bunch of cables connected to a collar, which plugs around the neck; the collar connects to the pilot's brain stem and spine using special electrical pulses. Through this way, a pilot is connected directly into the nervous system of the Cataphract and can manipulate it with the same dexterity and skill as they possess with their own body, making Cataphracts fantastically mobile. To take advantage of this, Cataphracts are forged using the best materials, most sophisticated techniques and most advanced technology in an endeavour that takes effort from all four Estates. The result is a powerful machine, capable of defeating almost anything one-on-one, more a work of painstaking art than simple industrial production.

However, this tactical supremacy comes at a price. Although the Ghosting System makes piloting a Cataphract an easy proposition, actually learning to use the Ghosting System is infamously difficult, and often takes at least 10 years to master. Even then, the System's intracacies differs from Cataphract to Cataphract, and being able to properly connect with one System doesn't mean being able to connect with another. Worse, long-term exposure to the Ghosting System can cause a series of strange effects to the pilot's mental state and nervous system, especially as the unit inevitably accumulates damage over years of operation. Collectively, these effects are known as Ghosting Sickness, and at their most extreme they turn pilots into Wraithknights: people unable to control their own bodies, completely dependent on others outside of the Cataphract.

Despite this, the sheer edge the Cataphract provides over rival machines means that these are risks and obligations that all Knights are willing to pay.


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Cataphracts in the Game

Cataphracts play similar to regular characters; they have Wounds, AP, use Characteristics and make tests. However, because they are a melding of pilot and machine, in some ways they play differently.

Cataphracts use the pilot's Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Agility and Perception, Willpower and Fellowship, but some upgrades or features modify these, for example a +10 or a -5. In these situations, you use the pilot's Characteristic and modifier total as your Characteristic; if you had a WS of 40, and an upgrade that added +5 WS, you would treat your WS within the Cataphract as 45.

Conversely, Cataphracts use their own Strength and Toughness, not the pilot's, for all intents and purposes, unless an effect calls for the pilot specifically to make a test in such a way. Cataphracts increase their Strength and Toughness through upgrades.

Finally, unlike humans, Cataphracts have individual wound pools for all of their body parts. If a human is shot in the arm and then the leg, then their single Wound pool is depleted. On the other hand, if you shoot a Cataphract in the arm, it will lose wounds from that Arm as appropriate, but it won't affect the leg.

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Generating a Cataphract

Generating a Cataphract comes in three steps.

  • Generate Form. In this phase, the Cataphract's physical body is decided, assembled from various options. This also decides the Cataphract's starting Wounds and AP, Traits and Characteristics.
  • Generate Features. Features add further character and definition to the Cataphract, making it even more unique. Features come in five categories: History, System, Construction, Material and Quirk. One entry is chosen from each category.
  • Generate Weapons. Although Cataphracts can use any type of equipment, they always start with at least one unique weapon.

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Generate Form

Here, the Cataphract's Form is generated. Not only does this define what it looks like, it also greatly defines how it operates. Forms are divided into Torso, Head, Left Arm, Right Arm, Legs and Power Plant. The Cataphract gains 7 Points to spend, and must purchase one item from each category. Note that buying leg parts represents buying a 'pair' of limbs, not just one. All Body Parts possess a 'Compatibility' category, marked with a letter: if two body parts in the same category possess the same letter, then they may be purchased together: merge their Specials, then take the highest from their AP, Wounds and Characteristic Effect (per characteristic). Note: If the Torso and a different Body Part type have overlapping Hit Percentages, the other Body Part has priority over the Torso.

Body Part Description Hit Percentage AP Wounds Characteristic Effect Effects Compatibility Cost
Torso
CAT Swift-Type 41-70 6 (TB*2)+8 Start with 25 Strength and Toughness. Add +10 to pilot's Agility Gain Unnatural Strength and Toughness (+3). Count as Size (3). Increase Power Max by 5. A 1 Point
CAT Knight-Type 41-70 6 (TB*2)+10 Start with 30 Strength and Toughness. Gain Unnatural Strength and Toughness (+3). Count as Size (4). B 1 Point
CAT Juggernaut-Type 41-70 6 (TB*2)+12 Start with 35 Strength and Toughness. Gain Unnatural Strength and Toughness (+3). Count as Size (5). Add 2 Wounds to all other body. Reduce Power Max by 5. C 1 Point
CAT Dreadnought-Type 41-70 6 (TB*2)+14 Start with 40 Strength and Toughness. Gain Unnatural Strength and Toughness (+4). Count as Size (6). Add 4 Wounds to all other body. Reduce power Max by 10. D 2 Points
Head
Binocular Head 1-10 4 (Weak 2) TB+5 Add +5 to Pilot's BS. - A 1 Point
Monocular Head 1-10 4 (Weak 2) TB+5 Add +5 to Pilot's Perception. - B 1 Point
Integrated Head 1-10 Add +1 AP to Torso. Add +6 wounds to Torso. - The Cataphract's head is integrated into the torso; effectively it has no head, but is not considered Blind. Any hits to this part strike the Torso instead unless you possess a Decoy Head. C 1 Point
Decoy Head 1-10 4 (Weak 2) TB+5 - This head doesn't suffer any effects from Critical Damage. Losing this body part incurs no penalties. C 1 Point
Left Arm
Manipular Arm 11-20 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Gain Improved Natural Weapon (0) attack with this arm. A 1 Point
Gunmount Arm 11-20 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Gunmount Arms may carry Basic and Heavy Weapons one-handed without penalty. The weight limit of the arm is increased by +2. However, it must have the weapon installed before battle; it takes roughly one hour per weapon size to install a weapon. Furthermore, Gunmount Arms may not freely manipulate anything. B 1 Point
Lance Arm 11-20 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Lance Arms may carry Two-Handed Weapons one-handed, and gain a +10 bonus to WS tests with this arm.. However, it must have the weapon installed before battle; it takes roughly one hour per weapon size to install a weapon. Furthermore, Lance Arms may not freely manipulate anything. C 1 Point
Flex Arm - - - - Flex Arms grant all Melee attacks the Reach (+1) and Flexible Qualities. Cannot be taken by itself. If purchased, then Flex Arm may be purchased for the other arm for Free. A, C 1 Point
Right Arm
Manipular Arm 31-40 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Gain Improved Natural Weapon (0) attack with this arm. A 1 Point
Gunmount Arm 31-40 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Gunmount Arms may carry Basic and Heavy Weapons one-handed without penalty. The weight limit of the arm is increased by +2. However, it must have the weapon installed before battle; it takes roughly one hour per weapon size to install a weapon. Furthermore, Gunmount Arms may not freely manipulate anything. B 1 Point
Lance Arm 31-40 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Lance Arms may carry Two-Handed Weapons one-handed, and gain a +10 bonus to WS tests with this arm.. However, it must have the weapon installed before battle; it takes roughly one hour per weapon size to install a weapon. Furthermore, Lance Arms may not freely manipulate anything. C 1 Point
Flex Arm - - - - Flex Arms grant all Melee attacks the Reach (+1) and Flexible Qualities. Cannot be taken by itself. If purchased, then Flex Arm may be purchased for the other arm for Free. A, C 1 Point
Legs
Plantigrade Legs 71-85 (left), 86-100 (right) 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Gain Improved Natural Weapon (0) attack with the legs. A 1 Point
Digitigrade Legs 71-85 (left), 86-100 (right) 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Digitigrade Legs grant +1 AB for the purpose of movement speed and a +10 bonus to Stealth. However, they take a -10 penalty to resist grapples, knockdowns and difficult terrain. B 1 Point
Hexapod Legs 71-85 (left), 86-100 (right) 4 (Weak 2) TB+7 - Hexapod Legs grant a +20 bonus to Difficult Terrain tests and a +10 to Dodge tests, but impose a -30 penalty to swim tests. C 1 Point
Hover Disk 71-100 4 (Weak 2) TB+12 - Gain the Hoverer (AB) trait, but expend 1 extra fuel in any round in which you move. D 1 Point
Serpentine 71-100 4 (Weak 2) TB+12 Add +10 to Pilot's Agility. Gain the Crawler trait. Furthermore, you count as having the High Ground against enemies on the same elevation. E 1 Point
Tracks 71-100 4 (Weak 2) TB+12 - Gain the Auto-Stabilised trait, but take -1 AB for the purpose of Movement Speed and a -20 penalty to Stealth and swim tests. F 1 Point
Power Plant
10mW Solar Fuel Plant - - - - Possesses 20 Max Power. A 1 Point
15mW Solar Fuel Plant - - - Add -10 to Pilot's Agility. Possesses 30 Max Power. B 1 Point
20mW Solar Fuel Plant - - - Add -20 to Pilot's Agility. Possesses 40 Max Power. C 1 Point

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Generate Features

Here, the special Features of the Cataphract are generated. Features give Cataphracts distinct, unique traits that can't be easily replicated. They come in five categories.

  • History. This represents the history of the Cataphract: some Cataphracts are very old, whilst some are legendary for other reasons.
  • System. This represents certain traits that stem from the internal computer systems of the unit.
  • Construction. This represents the effects that result from how the Cataphract was made.
  • Material. This represents the type of material that predominantly makes up the Cataphract's armour and make.
  • Quirk. This represents a broad field of options that really make a Cataphract stand out.

On generation, select one Feature from each category. That said, you need not be restricted to the existing options; if you have a good idea for a feature, discuss with the GM and work out suitable details!

HISTORY
Name Description Effect
Ancient This Cataphract is very old, easily older than 200 years. Throughout its period, it's been many things to many people, until its rich story has crystallised in and of itself, reflecting on whoever controls it. It stems from a period where powerful weaponry was more widespread, and a fraction of that ancient armory has been preserved; however, the unit is so old that it accepts modern maintenance techniques with an ill grace, requiring more specific parts and somewhat customised tools. You gain +10 Personal Influence and begin with one extra unique weapon. However, you increase repair costs by 10 Reserve.
Cursed This Cataphract bears a tragic curse, or so people say. An unusual number of Knights have spent their last breaths within its cockpit, the blood of yesterday revealing itself in the legends of today. People whisper that the machine itself somehow dooms the pilot with faulty ejection systems or 'unlucky' cockpit damage that usually ends up impaling or shredding the pilot. Of course, copious checks have found no such problems; it's just talk. Nonetheless, there is something special about the sort of person who would sit in such a grim coffin. So long as you are piloting the Cataphract, you gain a conditional Fate Point which may be spent in any way you prefer. However, you take a -10 penalty to Ejection rolls and whenever you take damage within the Cataphract, you take one extra.
Dreaded This Cataphract is the bearer of a grim legacy of devastation, a story parents whisper to recalcitrant children. Mercilessness, atrocity, brutality and horror: whatever the details, the reaction is the same. People are terrifed of this Cataphract, seeing it as a mechanical reaper of lives. Fear can be a powerful weapon, but the unit also bears a stain of shame, and people are quick to accuse the Knight of evil deeds. Your Cataphract gains the Fear (+1) Trait. However, whenever you gain Dishonour, you gain one extra.
Glorious This Cataphract has a glorious martial history. Its honour rolls speak at length about its grand deeds performed, the insurmountable odds overcome, the mighty foes humbled. It is a living legend, and piloting it can give the pilot a real sense of invincibility. However, such is its grand legacy of victory that failing to live up to it can have a devastating effect on the pilot's self image. So long as you are piloting the Cataphract, you take a +20 bonus to Willpower tests. However, if you ever retreat from battle, you lose this bonus and gain a -10 to Willpower until the end of the next Cycle.
Hubristic Rules were broken in the making of this Cataphract. Technology that should be forgotten was used; parties that none should deal with were brought into the fold; practices that are forbidden were put to use. The unit's arrogant construction has resulted in a bizarre level of mechanical deviance; its very existence offends the Erudites, who wish nothing more than to dismantle the Cataphract forever. They tolerate- barely- its existence, so long as its forbidden technology remains unused. Your Cataphract gains a second Quirk Feature (which should bear some cosmetic deviance from the 'usual' Quirk). However, you gain the Enemy (Erudites, 3) trait, and using your second Quirk always incurs 1d5 Dishonour in addition with any other Dishonour you might incur from its use.
Inspirational Some Cataphracts are immortalised for glorious feats of ability, or infamous for their cruelty. This one, however, bears a most noble legacy. Wherever it goes, the tide turns, and the nightmare of darkness and death is banished. It is an inspiration, a hope of the modern world, a beloved saviour. So long as they can see your Cataphract, your allies gain +10 to tests against Fear and Pinning, and allied Squads possess +1 Morale. However, should you ever be defeated or forced to retreat, all allied Squads must instantly make a Break test.
Mysterious This Cataphract bears an inscrutable, unknown history. Its records give information only grudgingly, and its parts are infuriatingly lacking in traceable details. It is unknown how old the unit is, who possessed it in the first place, or even who the creator was. No initial effect; the effects are revealed at a moment the GM considers appropriate.
Paragon Many of the noble bearers of this Cataphract have been paragons of honour: merciful in victory, gracious in conduct and wise in stewardship. To uphold these virtues is to take the prestige of yesteryear as one's own, but to besmirch it is a true sin. Whenever you gain Honour within this Cataphract, you may roll the dice twice and take the highest result. However, whenever you gain Dishonour within this Cataphract, you also reroll that die and take the worst result.
New This Cataphract is new; an expensive and momentous undertaking. In fact, it was practically built around you, starting with the Ghosting System as a child with the other components gradually being built on in response to your ability as the years passed. Now that it is complete, the result is a unit that reacts with eerie grace to your impulses, even for a Cataphract; but such sensitivity goes both ways. This unit was made for you specifically, and you gain +1 Ace Rating piloting this Cataphract and this Cataphract only. However, whenever you take Ghosting Damage, you gain one extra.

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