"Hagan.. I think we may have a problem with the Skullcrushers.."
ARCHIE 3 to Hagan upon discovering Skullcrushers are not responding to his orders during the BlackSteel Crisis during the Civil War
A cursed, supernatural metal that is possessed by a malign intelligence.
ARCHIE 3 Use Edit
Shortly before the Shemarrian Civil War, this metal was used by ARCHIE 3 in the construction of Skullcrusher Shemarrian robots at one specific factory. As the Civil War raged on, more of it was used and even more Skullcrushers were produced, as they seemed to be the only units immune to whatever it was that was corrupting the other Shemarrian tribes.
When incorporated into machinery, and particularly robots, it infects them with a malign intelligence, similar to, but not related to, the Ecotroz. The Skullcrushers were formerly much influenced by Blacksteel accidentally incorporated into them by ARCHIE-3’s repair facilities into going after the EShemar rebels with particularly acute hatred and brutality. The Blacksteel menace became a major factor in the violence of the Shemarrian Civil War.
Blacksteel Citadel Edit
Originally this was ARCHIE 3's satellite factory number 5, also known by Loyalist forces as a Temple to keep outsiders away, that was given over to manufacturing Shemarrians full-bore during the SCW, but it is also the factory that becomes infected with BlackSteel, transforming over time into a seething technological hellhole.
The automated factory that incorporates Blacksteel into the Skullcrushers starts behaving like the Ecotroz in that it has a mind of its own...only it's demonic. A3 doesn't mind it at first, because when he points the Skullcrushers at the rebels, the operative Shemarrians seem to be much more effective at fighting the EShemar than any of his other units, so he doesn't pay much attention to root cause.
It's when the Skullcrushers start ignoring more and more of his directives to pursue their own bloody-minded rampages that he starts realizing he has a problem.
This can morph late in the SCW into the factory complex becoming more and more haunted-house 'alive' and churning out ever more warped technomonstrousities that get even A3 and Hagan worried from what little they see of it. Witnesses to the Blacksteel Citadel speak fearfully of tree-like derricks reaching out to grab the unwary, mutated cyborg wildlife attacking en masse, and giant buzzsaw blades tearing through the ground like sharks in the ocean, to slice off intruders' legs or disembowel from ambush.
A combined tribe assault force finally destroyed the Blacksteel Citadel, but at great cost, with heavy losses suffered by all the tribes, including many of the freed and Awakened Skullcrushers.
Blacksteel Entity Edit
The malign intelligence that inhabits Blacksteel is an elemental evil that is not aligned to either of the hell-planes. It comes from a realm in the Astral Plane knows as 'The Void'.
It was first encountered by a group of heros on a city size Dwarven TW vessel, wholly possessed by the Blacksteel Entity. It was eventually destroyed by the dimension-drive being overloaded along with large amounts of silver railgun rounds fired into its hull.
Unfortunately fragments were backscattered across the megaverse. A very sizable portion landed on Rifts Earth, where a nearby group of ARCHIE 3's R'Mar scavangers detected and began the process of collecting the metal for recycling and processing to be used in robot production. This first went into the third production run of Skullcrushers, thus perpetuating and spreading .
Properties of Blacksteel Edit
Robots made with Blacksteel gain a form of sentience, similar to the Ecotroz Shemarrians, only blood-thirst, violent and evil, some might even say slightly demonic, but not allied with demons or deevils. Robots, vehicles and weapons created with Blacksteel slowly begin to take on a more demonic appearance over the course of months to years, becoming one with the Blacksteel Entity.
It causes agonizing pain to any living being that touches it, even lightly. It can even send someone into a coma/death situation, unless they are devoid of a soul. Those who touch Blacksteel suffer -2 to all rolls, -20% to skills and loses 2 attacks for 1d4 minutes per melee round touched, plus must save vs coma/death 17. A successful save means the victim is rendered unconscious for 1d4 melee rounds in a near coma-like state, failure means they suffer 4d4 damage straight to Hit Points, or 5d6 M.D. for M.D.C. creatures. If save by more than 5, they are only stunned for that melee round, unable to take any actions or defend themselves.
In most warriors only about 3 or 4 cubic centimetres of pure black-steel is used to create an alloy sheathing for either the reactor or CPU casing. This instills the aforementioned alignment shift to anarchist or diabolic, plus other changes occour. 1] The chassis wil regenerate damage at a rate of 10% per hour per location damaged. 2] Caustic ichor instead of artificial blood now flows through the synth-flesh of the gynoid (GM's call on how much and what type of damage). 3] A "miasa" aura surrounds the infected Shemarrian warrior for any psi senstive to see / smell.
War Chiefteness's will have the 3 basic manifestations, with the regeneration measured in minutes instead of hours. Also their infection tends to be more pronounced, having 30% Black Steel alloy in their endoskelletal structure. One final ability that manifests after 1-6 weeks after incept is the power to drain psi energy and AEtheric power by drawing blood; identical to the psi-stalker mutation and certain supernatural predators.
One notable case of the Blacksteel corrupting presence, besides the already blood-thirsty and evil attitude instilled upon the Skullcrushers, one War Goddess became a direct conduit for the elemental evil entity to manifest, changing her into a wholly insidious form, leading the tainted Skullcrushers freshly built at the Blacksteel Citadel during its defense against the combined tribe assault. This resulted from a nearly 70% Blacksteel alloy of endo and exo skelletal systems. The Wargoddess could regenerate damage at the speed of a greater demon, exhibited supernatural strength levels and her touch caused agony. The only blessing to those who opposed her was the hightened vulnerability to silver.
Blacksteel is vulnerable to silver and powerful holy magic. Silver, when it comes into contact with Blacksteel, causes an energetic exothermic reaction, destroying both substances. Holy magic can cause any Blacksteel alloys to expel the tainted metal and cause it to evaporate, where it will re-solidify in pure form sometime-somewhere downwind.
Warriors will take double damage from MDC weapons and projectiles made from silver. If a called shot of 20+ (modified) strikes the skull or chest area with silver, the tained container will be struck and an explosion of 6D6 MDC to a 3ft. radius will errupt and anihilate the Black-Steel... and decommission the gynoid.
Warchiefteness's will take half damage as MDC from SDC silver weapons and double from MDC silver attacks. If hit by a critical (natural 18 to 20 depending on character) with silver, there is a 30% chance the gynoid will exothermicly decommission, doing 1D4X10 MDC to a 10ft radius and leaving nothing behind except a smoking crater.
Wargoddess's are actually safer from silver, having only the vulnerabilities of line warriors, but when they are critical hit, they turn into thermite mixed with fuel-air explosive. 1D8X10 MDC to a 30ft. radius and if the elemental evil has manifested it may still remain manifested in the side-real universe to cause havoc and bloodshed (25% chance).
Taint Removed Edit
Once the tainted Blacksteel is removed, robots, and Shemarrian can be infected with the Ecotroz Entity, which many of the Skullcrusher survivors were very willing to, however they bear a great shame and dishonour that they feel they must atone for. Many of the original freed Skullcrushers went well beyond the call of duty in acts to fend off any evil forces, and made up large parties to hunt down the Shaper and Dark One and any Blacksteel tainted robots that might have fled the destruction of the Blacksteel Citadel.
Many of the original freed Skullcrushers lead daring assaults in the Minion War on Rifts Earth, dying to save others or taking down powerful Demons or Deevils. This reduced the numbers of the original tainted, but freed, Skullcrushers greatly.
Adventure Ideas Edit
Laying siege to and destroying the Blacksteel Citadel can be one of the more notable battles of the SCW (maybe seeing the first Ecotroz-Awakened Skullcrushers that haven't been immediately killed show up for the siege).
PC groups, either Ecotroz Shemarrians or allied outsiders can learn the location of the Blacksteel Citadel, or making the necessary alliances in the other tribes for a combined assault, and eventually fighting in the final assault.
Possible encounters are physically altered Skullcrushers with strange powers, such as the War Goddess that became a manifestation of the elemental evil.
Perhaps some of the tainted Skullcrushers escaped the final destruction of the Blacksteel Citadel, and it's the PCs' job to hunt them down, or notify the tribes if they are encountered much later. A possible resurgence of the Blacksteel Crisis?
BlackSteel Units Edit
Before and During the BlackSteel Crisis, many, if not all of the robots, androids and armours made at Factory 5/BlackSteel Citadel were corrupted. The BlackSteel, seeming to have an intelligence of its own, began to learn as more and more units were corrupted, it learned that certain forms were very effective and repeated them in great numbers.
The following are some of the more common forms or units used by the BlackSteel.
An A-63 altered with dark greasy looking armour and wicked arm blades.
A Titan Combat Robot corrupted by BlackSteel, a large mouth on the belly used to eat, and eat and eat.
An A-64 corrupted by the BlackSteel, with all the limbs ending in large claws.
AA-60 corrupted by BlackSteel with a long tendril-like tongue.
AA-50 corrupted insectons that take on a grotesque organic appearance and can release acid.
Corrupted A-49 that takes on a rusted appearance.
A corrupted AA-10 Bottweiler robot, able to deliver nanite attacks though its bite.
A corrupted A-63 Juicer imitation robot, able to infect other Juicers.
A corrupted combination of a Seeress and Spinster.
Many of the weapons ARCHIE-3 designed were also manufactured at Factory 5/BlackSteel Citadel, and were all corrupted as well.
And ARCH-22 that fires a black light laser.
A BlackSteel version of an ARCHIE-3 copy of the Mechanoid M-30, also firing the black light.
The BlackSteel corrupted version of ARCHIE-3's copy of the Mechanoid weapon is deadlier to organic life than the original.
A tainted Mechanoid M-15 plasma rifle.
BlackSteel corrupted railgun ammunition that can borrow in living targets, causing horrific wounds.