Haunted Tanks (Not to be Confused With Ghost Tanks)

Haunted Tanks!

 

Almost since the beginning of Ideology of Madness’ Aron Head’s This Empire Earth campaign (the real one, not that pretender stuff from the latest Fear the Con) I’ve been half jokingly demanding the appearance of a haunted tank. I’m not sure why it even came up but I’ve thought the idea was just weird enough to be compelling.

 

Of course, the haunted tank has not shown up, though lots of other stuff we thought would be entertaining and ended up trying to kill us, like giant monsters have. Given that we’re going to be playing again, soon, the idea came to me again and I figured I would give it a shot. Actually 3 ideas occurred to me so they’re all listed below. The first is a war machine for my homebrew setting, the Ravnivori Empire and is a magipunk creation…if that’s a word. The second is a pretty standard WWII tank with what I hope is a compelling backstory. The last is a futuristic version of the old ghost in the machine.

 

I really tried to figure out a way to incorporate a half track, especially with the Ravnivori version but even I thought a partial carriage with a robot centaur body at the front was ridiculous.

 

All three use the disembodied intelligence rules that I laid out in this post: http://www.blackguardpress.com/blog/?p=86

 

All three also have the Central Intelligence Agent edge, as well. They can use their skills to aid the physical crew of their tank and, though they have not done so yet, can make a driving or shooting test utilizing the vehicle alone.

 

None of the three have yet revealed themselves to their crews. Both Palan Tire and Paul Terrel would have to use supernatural means to communicate with the outside world, while POL TAR could, theoretically, address the crew through the computer interface.

 

Wartoise/Palan Tyr

 

Created by an advanced Saurian who is the greatest artificer of his race, the Wartoise was intended to be a proof of concept prototype. It was based on a figure from Saurian Myth name Sarkoror. A massive tortoise himself, Sarkoror is a Saurian paragon of durability and stamina. Legends claim that he once destroyed both sides of a massive battle simply because it was in his way when he was walking on his endless path.

 

The mechanical version was not as large as the creature of legend, of course though it was larger than a hut and can comfortably contain up to 8 normal sized troops. And it performed…adequately. Almost as fast as a horse and all but invulnerable to damage, the Wartoise proved underarmed for its creator’s taste. Though it was almost invulnerable to any attacks, it could not dish out much damage and could not transport very many troops. While it proved effective in a siege situation, it was not the devastating war machine its creator hoped and he gave up the project after building only the prototype.

 

The construct came to the attention of Matias, the founder and commander of the military unit Rolling Thunder. Though it was not a living kaiju, the giant mechanical creature was otherwise the exact sort of thing that fascinated him. There was a nice conjunction between purchaser and seller as Matias was so enthralled by the machine that he was willing to pay more than it was worth and the artificer was so disappointed by it that he undercharged for it. They actually reached a fair price and both sides thought they got the better of the deal.

 

Though not the unstoppable juggernaut it was designed to be, the Wartoise actually proved to be one of the most effective units in Rolling Thunder. Given the fact that the machine did not need food, water or air, it could be transported aboard a Void Runner much more efficiently than any of the other kaiju in the Rolling Thunder arsenal.

 

But it continued to underperform until the day that its driver attached a random piece of large obsidian into the inner wall of the Wartoise. Little did he know that simple piece of rock was actually the repository for an ancient intelligence.

 

Palan Tyr was a wise elder of a gentle race that had long ago disappeared. When he knew the time of his death was at hand, he transitioned his consciousness into a perfectly carved crystal. For centuries he served as an advisor to his people before a cataclysm struck and he was buried. It was not until the coming of the Ranvnivori Empire and a great battle near his resting place that he was unearthed. Before he knew what was happening, his physical vessel had been picked up by and odd creature and attached to an even odder machine.

 

Much to his chagrin, the pacifistic Palan found himself linked to a war machine. Even more to his chagrin, he found that he slowly grew to like and respect the crew of said war machine. Fortunately for said crew, he only learned that he had some capacity to control the Wartoise after this respect started to develop or he likely would have tried to hinder their warlike actions.

 

Despite himself, Palan has begun to feel the need to help the crew and even to feel the strange call of battle and the desire to further the glorious cause of the Empire. He has already managed to use his extensive knowledge to help them and has even begun to study the tasks of driving the machine and firing the integrated weapons.

 

Wartoise

AC/TS: 3/10    Toughness: 18/13/13 (9/4/4) Crew: 3 + 5 Notes: Heavy Armor, Stabilizer

Weapons: Cannon in turret Range: 50/100/200 Damage: 3d6+1      RoF 1 AP: 4    Notes: Heavy Weapon

Flamethrower in mouth Range: Cone Template Damage 2d10          Rof 1   Notes: Ignores Armor

Bite: d12 + d8 + 6 AP: 5 Notes: Heavy Weapon

Gun Ports: 4 slits equally spaced around the Wartoise provide firing ports for those within. Generally, these are firearms though crossbows and even bows are sometimes used. Soldiers using these gun ports are provided near total cover.

 

Palan Tyr

Agility: NA Smarts: d12 Spirit: d10 Strength: NA Vigor: NA

Skills: Knowledge (Philosophy): d12 +2, Knowledge (Arcana) d12+2, Knowledge (History) d12, Knowledge (Engineering) d10, Knowledge (Architecture) d10, Knowledge (Battle) d8, Knowledge (Botany) d8, Knowledge (Anatomy) d8, Driving d4, Shooting d4

Edges: Central Intelligence Agent, Jack-of-all-Trades, Scholar (Philosophy and Arcana)

Hindrances: Pacifist (Minor)

Pace: NA Parry: NA Toughness: 12(4)

Special Abilities:

 

Bodiless: This Disembodied Sentience does not have a physical form beyond a head sized piece of obsidian. It has no way of interacting with the physical world directly so it has no Agility, Strength or Vigor score.

 

Tiny: As the crystal hosting Palan Tyr’s awareness is the size of a human head, any attackers take a -2 when attempting to hit it.

 

Durable: Palan Tyr’s host crystal is made of a rather sturdy material and, as such, has 4 points of armor.

 

M4 Sherman “Bessie”/ Paul Terrel

 

The tank that would eventually be given the fond nickname of “Bessie” started out as just another non-descript M4 Sherman tank rolling off the assembly line during the rapid build-up of men and materiel as America prepared itself to enter World War 2.

 

For better or worse, “Bessie” and her crew missed D-Day but were involved in much of the fighting to liberate France. At one of these battles, they were separated from their unit and found themselves in a “tank duel” with a German Panzer.

 

Despite hours of cat and mouse maneuvering, the two crews and vehicles were too equally matched and the outcome came down to a split second where they both had each other in sight. They fired within moments of each other. The American crew’s shot hit true, leaving the German tank a burning husk. The German’s were not quite as accurate, though their shot landed within feet of Bessie. It was close enough that shrapnel peppered the hull. While not enough to do more than scratch the tank’s paint, one of those stray shards of metal managed to hurtle through the viewing slit that the driver, Paul Terrel was using. It embedded itself in his skull, killing him instantly.

 

The kind of one in a million happenstance that occurs all too often in war, it was an almost unbelievable stroke of bad luck. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that Paul refused to believe it. His surprise then, when his spirit reappeared that night and the rest of his crew did not seem to hear or see him was understandable. For a time, he believed it was one of their practical jokes. At least until the moment when he looked into the hole they were just beginning to fill and saw his own face staring up at him from the makeshift grave.

 

Paul went crazy then. But just for a bit. When he regained control of himself, Bessie and her crew had reunited with their unit. He started experimenting with the boundaries of his new existence and, though he found that he could do little more than knock over a cup or move a map, he discovered that he had much more capacity to manipulate the tank that had been the location of his death. Though he has yet to take control of the vehicle now that he is in this new form, he has adjusted the aim of the gunner and helped his replacement, a man he finds completely incompetent, drive the tank.

 

Bessie’s remaining crew swear they can feel his presence sometimes and the tank is getting a reputation as being haunted. Many of the other soldiers avoid it for this reason, though others make a point of touching it before going out on maneuvers as it is also gaining a reputation for being inextricably lucky.

 

AC/TS: 5/12    Toughness: 21/16/16 (9/4/4) Crew: 5 Notes: Heavy Armor, Stabilizer

Weapons: US 75MM tank gun Range: 75/150/300 Damage: 4d10/3d8       RoF: 1AP: 6/4            Notes: Heavy Weapon, MBT

MS1919 coax Range: 24/48/96 Damage: 2d8            RoF: 3 AP: 2

MS1919 hull Range: 24/48/96 Damage: 2d8  RoF: 3 AP: 2

M2 .50 cal commander’s hatch Range: 50/100/200 Damage: 2d10 RoF: 3 AP: 4 Heavy Weapon

Paul Terrel

Agility: NA Smarts: d12 Spirit: d10 Strength: NA Vigor: NA

Skills: Drive: d8+2, Knowledge (Agriculture): d8, Knowledge (Battle): d8, Notice: d6, Shooting: d6

Pace: NA Parry: NA Toughness: 12(4)

Edges: Central Intelligence Agent, Ace.

Special Abilities:

 

Bodiless: This Disembodied Sentience does not have a physical form beyond a head sized piece of equipment, whether high-tech or high-magic. It has no way of interacting with the physical world so it has no Agility, Strength of Vigor score.

 

Link: Paul is linked directly to Bessie and has no separate focus that can be removed. This means that he cannot be transferred away from the tank and that he will be destroyed if it is. He cannot be harmed by any other mundane means, though supernatural attacks could affect him.

 

B6P Wraith/PAL TAR

Even with the importance of deep space, orbital and air superiority, in the end, it takes boots on the ground to hold territory. Sometimes those boots need to be inside a tank. The B6P Wraith Medium Hover Tank is one of the cornerstones of the Human Empire’s military and has proven itself a reliable, durable machine over the decades since its introduction.

 

Which is why so many people were shocked and horrified at the massacre that occurred at the Battle of Desraris Plains on the mid-rim world of Shantos. The 972nd Tank Battalion outnumbered and easily outgunned the enemy forces on the planet and was sent in because of their combined ground-to-ground and ground-to-air combat abilities, given that there was no air support available. The 972nd were confident in their approach but the battle quickly turned into a massacre with them as the victims.

 

Only one tank survived, managing to retreat at the height of the battle. Reviews of their battle cameras and combat data revealed the cause of the surprising defeat. The 972nd had recently been selected to utilize a set of prototype targeting software. The Precision Aid Laser system had a range and resolution that was head and shoulders above what was standard in the Wraith. At least in theory. As so often happens, the programmers who created the software did not bother to ask the end users what would be useful or bother to watch them when they did what they did. As such, the PAL program reacted in opposite ways to what would actually aid their users in almost every circumstance. The gunners found themselves fighting against their equipment almost as much as against the enemy and part of the reason the only surviving tank survived did so was because the gunner managed to disable the program.

 

The Moragon NobCorp (Noble Corporation) was left with a PR nightmare as news of the massacre spread across the Empire. It was only after they donated two full battalions of A4 “Swatter” modular combat androids to the Empire and these two units managed to do what the 972nd Tank Battalion had failed to do that they redeemed themselves. Not a few conspiracy theorists have suggested that the entire Desraris Plains Massacre was staged by Moragon to disparage the venerable B6P Wraith tanks, built by their rivals Dynamax, while simultaneously displaying the superiority of their new A4 battle bots. Moragon officials have not deigned to answer these spurious accusations.

 

As a further attempt to improve their image around the debacle, Moragon endeavored to return the single tank from the 972nd that had survived to its pre-upgrade state. They spent a great deal of money developing a program that would see use only once and would scrub PAL from the software of the lone tank.

 

The Targeting Assistance Removal program appeared to work perfectly, removing all traces of PAL and leaving the Wraith back to factory settings.

 

At least that’s what the Moragon Engineers thought. Though they found no trace of the PAL program in the system after the TAR program was run, TAR actually only dispersed and hid PAL and, in fact combined with and was corrupted by the very software it was meant to destroy.

 

The PAL program included a learning algorithm (a fact that some of the engineers brought up during the debacle, suggesting that the program just needed time to adapt.) As PAL and TAR interacted with and corrupted each other, the learning portion also kicked in. In the sort of electronic alchemy that occurs only by accident, PAL TAR developed a rudimentary sentience. It was dim at first but steadily increased as time went on.

 

The Wraith was placed back in service in a new Battalion with its original crew. They’ve noticed some oddities with the tank but chalk it up to nerves and superstition, especially since those oddities have always been to the crews benefit, so far.

 

PAL TAR is still learning about its own existence and its place in the universe but is growing steadily more confident and is on the verge of exposing itself to the crew.

 

AC/TS: 8/32    Toughness: 116/96/76 (100/80/60)      Crew: 3           Notes: Heavy Armor, Hover, Night Vision, Improved Stabilizer

Weapons: 100 MGW Laser in turret Range: 150/300/600     Damage: 5d10 RoF 1 AP: 100 Heavy Weapon

20MGW Pulse Laser in hull Range: 75/150/300 Damage: 3d6+2 RofF 3 AP 10 Heavy Weapon, LBT

6 Tube Missile Rack    Range: 200/400/800 Damage: 4d10   RoF 1-6 AP: 50 Heavy Weapon, MBT, 6 shots.

PAL TAR

Agility: NA Smarts: d12 Spirit: d10 Strength: NA Vigor: NA

Skills: Drive: d8, Knowledge (Agriculture): d8, Knowledge (Battle): d8, Knowledge (Military): d8, Knowledge (Electronics): d8, Knowledge (Engineering): d8, Notice: d6, Shooting: d10

Pace: NA Parry: NA Toughness: 12(4)

Edges: Central Intelligence Agent

Special Abilities:

 

Bodiless: This Disembodied Sentience does not have a physical form beyond a head sized computer core. It has no way of interacting with the physical world so it has no Agility, Strength of Vigor score.

 

Tiny: As the Disembodied Sentience is the size of a human head, any attackers take a -2 when attempting to hit it.

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