The Horrorwoods are one of the original 8 tribes created by A.R.C.H.I.E. 3 and Hagan in their schemes to confuse outsiders and hide their true activities.
This tribe was created like all the other tribes by the machine entity A.R.C.H.I.E 3 and Hagan, and deployed in North and South Carolina with about 550 strong in the tribe before the Civil War. Making use of Ostrosaurus, Monst-Rex and Monst-Cranes as their warmounts, and keep packs of Shemarrian Wolves. They use dinosaur claws and teeth to make jewelry and ornamentation. Amongst one of the early tribes to be converted to the EShemarrian cause.
Lanna had heard that memories of one’s life flashed before one’s eyes before the end. She now knew this to be another adult lie; it did not flash, it FLED. In her case it had left her far behind, unsportingly throwing her to the feng-beast that was now snapping at the little girl’s heels as both charged through the dark forest. She could feel the monstrous predator’s hot breath curling the hairs on her back, could feel the teeth sliding fleetingly off the bristles of her tail. She reached deep, found another reservoir of strength and put it to speed, gaining a scant few feet ahead of her pursuer.
She knew she wasn’t going to make it back to the village’s security perimeter, but she had her eyes glued on a massive tree that might just offer her refuge. If she could just get there, her Kirn ancestry just might come in handy if she could get up it and away from the jaws of her pursuit.
Just a few more yards! She could see the bark of the old tree coming into focus as she leapt for it, her nails reaching for purchase to scoot her up the trunk...
Only to hit and find none at all. Stunned, she slid down the trunk, clawing and scratching futilely, to land at the bottom in a tangled heap. In shock, tears and snot clogging her senses, she waited for the final blast of foul breath and the sudden pain of being snapped in half by the ravenous feng.
“Foolish child, don’t you know fengs can climb with the best of them? They’re bred from Kryygorth Hunter stock! What were you DOING during survival class when they taught you that?!”
In spite of herself, Lanna’s eyes snapped open at that stern, disapproving voice. Almost involuntarily, and in surprise at still being alive, she looked over her shoulder, and flinched at the blunt snout of the feng still there. But it was BACKING away, and instead a tall, dark-clad, and very female figure was stepping out of the shadows to tower over the cowering teen. Twin antennae glinted in the moons’ light that illuminated a very vexed-looking feminine face that looked down at Lanna.
“By the Goddess, what is a youngling doing out at this time of night?! Don’t you know these woods are DANGEROUS?! Whatever moved you to come out here all on your own, girl?!”
Stuck between shock at still being alive and in awe of one of the Shemarrians who’d brought Lanna’s people out of slavery to this world and protected them still, Lanna found breath between heaves to answer the warrior’s question.
“P-please, Hhhonn-ored Miss-tress!...I heard...just wanted...to-see...there was...patch of...glow ferns...atop the...hill!”
The Shemarrian pondered the panting girl’s words for a moment. “Let me get this straight; you ignored commonsense, broke curfew, broke whatever rules your parents or guardians set down for you come nightfall, traipsed across the security perimeter, and wandered out into the woods, crawling with all sorts of danger, ALONE, without adequate protection, to see if you could find some GLOWING FERNS?”
Phrased like that, Lanna’s little expedition sounded rather foolish. She hung her head in shame as she shivered out an embarrassed “Yes, Honored Mistress...”
“You know, had this been an actual feral feng-beast, you’d be dead? Very, very dead?”
Lanna’s eyes widened and shot over at the feng-beast that had now retired to behind the Shemarrian. Its eyes glinted at her and glowed briefly in a manner that living breathing animals’ eyes do not ordinarily do.
Lanna’s head nodded almost spastically in affirmation of what the Shemarrian had just asked.
The Shemarrian sighed. “Oh well, we’re all young and dumb. Not that’s any excuse.”
The tall woman reached down and scooped up Lanna like a kitten, hoisting her to the nook of her arm, before turning around and heading back in the general direction that Lanna had been fleeing from, the ersatz feng-beast falling into step behind them. “Very well, let’s go see these glowing ferns that were apparently so worth risking your life to see. And then we are going to your village and I will have words with whoever is responsible for you about you sneaking out at night! And tomorrow you will begin attending extra survival classes that you WILL stay awake during, so you will know what to do once whatever duration you will be grounded for expires!”
In spite of the protective presence of the Shemar Warrior holding her, Lanna suddenly shivered in new fear...that of being grounded for life.
In the Three Galaxies’ Shemarrian Star Nation, the Horrorwoods Tribe is regarded as the ‘greeners’ of the SSN, preferring to remain planetbound for the most part, attending to local ecologies, and remaining close to the land. The Horrorwoods find an almost spiritual fulfillment in living close to their supposed roots as a nomadic, druidic, nature-embracing people. Yet, by the same token, as they preach ecological responsibility, they are also one of the biggest users of nanotechnology, cyborg technology, and animal-emulation robotics of all the Tribes. And for all their talk of harmony, they live more of a ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ philosophy, regarding active ecosystems as hotbeds of natural selection and constant testing of the worthiness of species to survive.
While the Horrorwoods’ spaceforces (as shall be discussed later) are relatively weak, they have one of the largest ground armies available to any of the Shemar Tribes. In part, this is due to their construction of more types of War Mounts and animal-style robots than any other Tribe; it’s said that the total of Horrorwoods-produced animaloids outnumber the actual Shemar (indeed, the Horrorwoods use versions of virtually every terrestrial War Mount type developed by the Shemarrians). The other contributor to the massive land forces available to the Horrorwoods is their rather liberal interpretation of the definition of NeShemar. While the Horrorwoods have the traditional ranks of Shemar-emulation cyborgs and the like living in their camps and adopting their lifestyle, the ‘woods have also gathered to them entire populations of those who seek the Shemars’ protection and guidance. These populations have bolstered the Horrorwoods’ ranks with a large pool of volunteer soldiery and labor.
The Horrorwoods seek out verdant, life-rich worlds with active (or ideally hyperactive) ecosystems. Where they can, they choose to settle on as-yet uncolonized, or sparsely-colonized, planets with plenty of unclaimed wilderness and room to move around in. Typically, the Horrorwoods have selected worlds with a Splugorth connection; either planets that have been wrested from the control of the Splugorth, or worlds the Horrorwoods are establishing to settle ex-slaves liberated from the Splugorth. In the former case, any local inhabitants are happy to have protectors move into the neighborhood, while in the latter, the refugees are happy to oblige their liberators. If the planet is already inhabited, the Horrorwoods will negotiate for sovereignty over a large enough wilderness for their people to wander at leisure, and they will establish their territories much as the original Shemarrian Nation operated; trespassers will be turned away, aggressors opposed with lethal force, and the annoyingly curious dissuaded from nosing around, though the Shemarrians will assist those in genuine trouble and come to the aide of their neighbors if so required.
The Horrorwoods then frequently seed the wilderness of their planetary holds with Sentry-Trees, nanofoliage, and robot animals (especially if the planet supports its own ecosystem, making for local variants on Shemarrian replibots). This ‘electric ecoystem’ can become quite elaborate, with elements ranging from giant robodinos down to small mice-mechs operating from recharge burrows powered by the neighboring solar-collector cybertrees. This network of robots and remote sensors allow the Horrorwoods to monitor their realm, check up on the environment, and check on the organic portion of the ecosystem, alerting the Horrorwoods if action is needed (forest fires put out, toxic wastes cleaned up, areas evacuated, alien species culled back, etc...).
The Horrorwoods will then begin establishing settlements. While some of these settlement-enclaves are purely Shemarrian/EShemar, others are NeShemar, and still others are set aside for the Horrorwoods’ approved settlers. Most communities, however, will have a handful of resident Shemar/EShemar living among them; Warriors who have grown accustomed to the attractions of urban life. Tinker-Healers setting up shop or overseeing the local factories/high tech establishments, Seeresses, Acolites, and Psi-Shamans seeing to the needs of the people, and Male Shemar overseeing vatious agricultural projects.
It is not unknown for the other Clans to send rescued refugees, volunteers, and even low-risk prisoners of war that they’ve acquired to the Horrorwoods to be resettled on one of their enclave worlds. As a result, the Horrorwoods Clan has arguably the largest population pool of NeShemar and not-quite-NeShemar ‘colonists’ gathered under their banner.
Typically a dichotomy in colonial structure emerges; the Horrorwoods Clan favors small villages or townships for the colonists, while the EShemar and EShemar remain nomadic, wandering regular circuits through the wilderness . However, under each small town or village is a concealed high-tech factory, mine, or industrial facility, with just as many camouflaged factories and complexes hidden out in the wild (note: GMs might want to use the charts in Rifts China 1 to depict typical colonial communities).
Settlers are allowed their own self-government, but the local authority is ultimately answerable to the Shemarrians, and the settlers can address grievances directly to the local Shemarrian chieftainesses and elders, who act as a ‘court of last appeal’. If such happens, the Shemarrians are obliged to investigate the claims and rule to either enforce or overturn the local law’s rulings. In return for the Horrorwoods’ continued protection and patronage, the settlements are responsible for a tithe of their local economic production, and obedience to the Shemarrians in matters of defense. While the settlements are allowed to freely communicate and trade with each other, space travel is under the control of the Shemar.
Similarly, the settlers are allowed to practice their own religion(s), as long as they aren’t sacrificing anybody or summoning anything nasty to the Shemarrian planet (likewise, magic is similarly carefully watched). For the most part most colonists keep their culture and cultural beliefs, but a few settlers have taken to adopting the Shemarrian and Shaemarian deities as their own. There is also a tendency increasingly towards matriarchal government, and a street-level growth in youth action groups among young girls who seek to emulate the warrior-women Shemarrians they regard as role models, with an ultimate goal of one day becoming ‘true’ NeShemar. These girl-gangs can be as zealous (and violent) as any Juicer Wannabes on Rifts Earth, and when they discuss ‘implants’ the meaning usually isn’t cosmetic. Many of these groups are little more than glorified street gangs, but others are effectively police auxiliaries and civil defense units akin to groups like the Guardian Angels, and help out their fellow settlers, especially in times of crisis.
The Shemar regularly visit the settlements to deliver goods between the colonies, exchange news, as well as drop off meat and hides gathered in the wilds. Because of the Horrorwoods’ propensity for choosing worlds with large aggressive fauna (or transplanting such when they are lacking locally), most colonists wisely stay within running range of the settlements, leaving the wilderness for the most part to the Shemar and dedicated bionic NeShemar.
Quality of life is generally good and quite comfortable on a Horrorwoods world. The Horrorwoods espouse ‘green’ self-sufficient and self-sustaining technologies, but some of these can get quite sophisticated, so those refugees from high tech worlds aren’t going to be completely hopeless in adapting. The result is a sort of frontier/bleeding-edge tech of communities using animals to plow fields, and using wood and stone construction for most buildings, but using nanotech to cement and weather-seal the construction, powering the community with solar converters, and traveling self-repairing roads throughout the towns. While certain technologies are watched closely and regulated (Juicer and Crazy conversions, for instance, are forbidden), cybernetics and bionics are readily available, especially since many of the refugees and ex-slaves had injuries or conditions that encouraged limb and organ replacement, and their rescuers were themselves androids and cyborgs.
On many worlds, the colonists are given nanite augmentation to help them adapt to the planet, helping to ward off diseases, viruses and other environmental factors such as lower oxygen or higher concentrations of more poisonous gases.
Combat and Technology
“Them Horrorwoodsers are really good at two things; getting down at you on your own homeground and kicking you off theirs.”
The Horrorwoods Clan has chosen to focus primarily on planetary matters, rather than building a large spacefleet. They DO maintain a small, but powerful, space fleet to assist in planetary defense and campaigning abroad. The Horrorwoods have only limited space-based manufacturing capabilities and shipyards, and rely mainly on the Darkwaters and Silvermoons for their spacecraft. The Horrorwoods’ fleet consists mainly of assault transports (especially Hitode and Rhincodon-class ships) for moving their large contingents of troops and warmounts, and smaller shorter-ranged fighters and corvettes. They have also been known to seed their systems with extensive layers of orbital defense satellites and mines when not assuming a ‘lie low’ posture with regards to their settlement worlds.
“I can’t say where I was, because I just don’t know, and because of that the Shemarrians were fairly free in showing me everything...well, what they WANTED me to see...so all I can tell you is that these ‘Horrorwoods’ members of the Shemarrian Star Nation are experts of camouflage and deception, all tied in to their philosophy of cyberization. What looks like a wild herd of animals grazing on a plain or running through the wilderness is really a vehicular motorpool to them, what looks like a swath of old-growth forest is really a massive solar farm producing electricity and hydrogen, what looks like grassland is a deep space listening array, and what appear to be deep lakes and ponds hide anti-ship missile launchers or super-cooled heavy energy cannon. I have no doubt that they’ve hidden all manner of other military facilities in plain sight, concealed in the guise of natural things.
The message was clear and unconcealed, however; mess with the Shemarrians and you better beware of every tree, shrub, pond, rock, and wild animal you come across, ‘cause any or all of them could be gunning for you.”
----Anonymous CCW military liaison officer, after a supervised ‘courtesy’ visit to a Horrorwoods refuge world.
Any attacker attempting to raid a Horrorwoods-held world will find it a difficult proposition; while obvious targets, the villages are well-defended by well-armed town militias, while the dispersed Warriors of the EShemar are quick to respond to invasion.
Township colonials are expected to maintain a regular and well-organized militia, trained by the Shemarrians. The militia is equipped with older-style Shemarrian weaponry and knockoffs produced by the regional factories, but also with weaponry and vehicles claimed as spoils of war, including armored vehicles, fighters, and robots. Most Horrorwoods colonial enclaves have emergency shelters built underneath, as well as escape tunnels and successions of shelters and supply caches outside them, allowing for orderly evacuations if the Horrorwoods deem it necessary to abandon a settlement.
Anybody landing in the wilderness doesn’t have it any better; the extensive network of robotic flora and fauna creates an ‘electric ecosystem’ that will alert the Horrorwoods withing minutes of an invader landing. Invaders will find themselves running the gauntlet of forest critters attacking them, trees coming to life (sentry trees or Shemarrian Preservers) and opening up on them, or artillery dropping with uncanny accuracy (due to networked roboplants and animals providing forward spotting). War patrols will begin moving in on a landing site, quickly encircling the intrusion while the rest of the Clan marshals its forces. Interspersed in the wilds are supply and weapons caches, as well as concealed weapons facilities, such as anti-spacecraft cruise missile and long range missile launch sites, and energy weapon batteries. Other facilities include camouflaged air bases for both rapid-response aerospace fighters and aerial War Mounts.
As noted before, the Horrorwoods maintain a larger-than-usual army of NeShemar, drawn from colonial volunteers and Awakened non-Shemar robots. While primarily deployed for planetary defense, the NeShemar legions are also occasionally used offworld to fill out Horrorwoods assault forces (especially those raiding or liberating other Splugorth worlds), secure landing zones, and occupying territory, freeing up the Shemar warriors for straight-out offense work. Those serving with such expeditionary forces can enjoy higher social status as warrior NeShemar, with a correspondingly greater access to higher-powered cybernetic and bionic upgrades (if the soldier so wishes). Most expeditionary force soldiers have cybernetics and bionics equivalent to a Rifts Earth Headhunter OCC, though not all NeShemar necessarily have or want implants, especially those specialist magic-users and psychics. While planetary militias may be armed with a wide variety of gear from various sources, the offworld expeditionary forces see a higher degree of standardization; standard-issue environmental body armor resembles a cross between the old external plating of the Male Shemarrians, with bits of Rifts Earth NEMA armor in the mix, and helmets have two extendable communications antennae at the temples (many also have a removable crest). Weapons are generally adaptations of older-pattern Shemarrian weapons, or remodeled versions of other designs; the most common firearms currently in use are CCW-pattern High Intensity lasers and G-guns remodeled with a Shemarrian look. When not campaigning abroad, expeditionary forces live and train on Shemarrian worlds, stiffening the planetary militias.
The Horrorwoods have sometimes been accused of using the settlements as ‘bait’ to draw in and concentrate would-be invaders (especially the Splugorth) over the urbanized settlements, the better to target them then from ambush. The Horrorwoods vehemently deny this allegation, though they HAVE been known to lure Splugorth and other enemies to prepared ‘killing grounds’ seeded with their cyberflora and fauna, and even imported dangerous species, in order to ambush their enemies.
Relations With Others
Though the Horrorwoods are on good terms with all their sister Tribes, they get along best with the Wolf’s Path and Sapphire Cobras, the former because they maintain their own planetary enclaves (and share many worlds with the Horrorwoods), and the latter because they are looking to establish size-able planetary enclaves of their own (dominated by their snake religion).
Because ‘living’ worlds like those the Horrorwoods choose to settle tend to have higher ambient PPE, the Wayfinders often visit and establish small enclaves, so it is not uncommon to see Wayfinders welcomed to Horrorwoods worlds.
Similarly, the Hawkmoons frequent Shemarrian planets to remain ‘in touch with the winds’. The Horrorwoods trade often with the Hawkmoons, often meeting with the Hawkmoons and their Shaemarian patrons to negotiate tech transfers and joint development projects, especially of ecology-related nanotech and biotech.
Because the Horrorwoods have since taken over the deep water niche that the Dark Waters once claimed as their own before they became the ‘Tribe of the Deep Black’ (space), there is a teasing rivalry between the two clans when the Dark Waters come to visit a Horrorwoods world, usually to see to the space defenses or deliver new spacecraft.
The Horrorwoods have occasionally worked with the Silvermoons, especially if a colony requires extra terraforming (on two occasions the Silvermoons have helped set up giant orbital solettes or mirrors).
The Horrorwoods have limited contact with the Blood Riders; the ‘Riders tend to stick to their own communities even when sharing a planet with the other Tribes. Blood Rider contingents may be attached as shock troops and special forces to larger Horrorwoods taskforces in the field, but generally the two Tribes don’t socialize much together.
The Horrorwoods perhaps get along least with the SkullCrushers (for whom collateral damage to the environment is NOT an issue), even though many potential NeShemar who would join the SkullCrushers’ crusades are usually sent on to the Horrorwoods, and the Ghost Riders (who on several occasions have sought to ‘dump’ inconvenient witnesses to some of their bungled black-ops infiltration efforts on other worlds by doping them up and shipping them to the Horrorwoods as ‘colonists’).
Relations With Outsiders
Relations outside the Shemarrian Tribes are as standard for the SSN; the CCW and TGE are regarded in passing as distant concerns to be kept at arm’s length and only confronted if attacked first. The Horrorwoods DO accept refugees from the Free Worlds Council worlds, or rather dissidents fleeing the TGE (the FWC prefers to dig in their heels and fight, not run; that’s the whole point of their rebellion). Similar policies are in place with regards to the other major powers.
The Horrorwoods regard the Splugorth as their natural and traditional enemies, and appear to LOVE taking the Splugs’ slave-worlds away from them. Indeed, clashes between the Splugorth and Horrorwoods can become epic campaigns that involve not just legions of warriors, but entire artificial ecosystems as biowizardry-spawned predators and robot animals are launched at each other.
During the Minion War, the need for refuge worlds increases dramatically, as large numbers of sentients attempt to flee the demonic and dyval forces savaging worlds and sectors. With the major powers like the CCW and TGE occupied defending their own borders, opportunists like the Splugorth will come out to prey on these refugee exoduses, prompting the Shemarrian Star Nation to rise to protect the victims of Splugorth aggression, stab their traditional enemies in an unprotected flank, fall on Splugorth worlds while their armies are elsewhere, and liberate slaves from the charnel pits and slave pens. The Horrorwoods will be turned to by their sister Tribes to administer to newly seized or invested slave-worlds and find places of refuge for liberated slaves.
On Rifts Earth, the Horrorwoods have a very active role fighting Hell Lord Pain camping out in their territory. The Hell Lord’s invasion of the traditional enemy of the Shemarrians, the Splugorth, will give the gynoids pause.
The Horrorwods have few air forces, focusing on ground and an increasing number of aquatic units, with at least a few examples of almost every elite produced by the other tribes.
A large male elite based on the Preserver frame with regenerating bark armour.
“With few exceptions, we just don’t know where these Shemar ‘refuge worlds’ are that we hear they pack rescued slaves off to, so we’re presuming they’re off the beat and track in the Unexplored Territories, and especially off the Splugorths’ charts. Given what we know of Shemarrian stealth capabilities, they’re most likely using those systems to keep anybody from tracking their ships back to their planets. It’s also a fair bet that some of the systems and sectors they HAVE warned us away from are red herrings meant to distract us away from where the Shemarrian Star Nation REALLY lies.
The few planets we DO know the locations tend to be lightning rods for combat, since those worlds tend to be ones the Shemarrians have taken away from the Splugorth. They’ve turned those systems into full-on warzones, armed the natives, and effectively boobytrapped the larder against the Splugorth ever coming back and trying to retake them. Even there though, we’re seeing some evacuation of the locals to other offworld sites, maybe to clear the way for heavier weaponry to be brought in.”
---Colonel Agoran Metzek, Noro CAF Intelligence Analyst, in a presentation on the Shemarrian Star Nation.
A large sauropod used as mobile artillery units.
A warmount modeled on captured and salvaged Kittani Raptor power armour. An early Frankensteed that slowly became a full fledged design of its own.
A large metallic spider warmount with excellent climbing and jumping abilities. Its web spinning abilities make them excellent ambushers and trap setters.
A warmount that based loosely on a mix of Creax Armoured Rover, Kittani War Crab and Titan Robotics Combat Robot, creating a four legged hunched over brute of a creature with massive arms that reach the ground.
A massive, six legged land turtle based warmount used as a heavy artillery platform.
A warmount based on the Giant Clamp-Mouth Dragonfly that is incredibly maneuverable but lightly armed.
A large utility warmount that looks like the bastard child of a giant mosquito and a high tech industrial vacuum cleaner with a dose of octopus thrown in. Used for excavation, salvage and scavenging work and firefighting roles primarily.
An aerial warmount based on the Kittani Allosaurus robot, used as an aerial combat transport and ground attack warmount.
A rare warmount that seems like the old frankensteeds, that appears to be a heavily modified Northern Gun NG-V47 Gunbot.
A major variant of the Fury Beetle, but with a larger pointed head, larger foreclaws with heavy weapons.
An arachnid warmount inspired by the Australian peacock spider with a deployable array of high powered lights and illumination lasers that rise and unfold from the abdomen.
One of the largest warmounts created with ape-like body, head that resembles a Coalition States Spider Skull Walker, used as massive siege engines or mobile fortress outposts due to their size.
A large crocodilian warmount used for patrol and fire support in areas littered with rivers and swamps, like the Dinosaur Swamp of Rifts Earth, its birth place.
The Horrorwoods field large numbers of robotic creatures that are not awakened and classified as either drones or enimals.
Modeled after arboreal primate in Evales jungle forests, used a mass attack shock troops.
Colonial Nanotech Augmentation
“Feel that tingle in your lungs? That would normally be the high ozone around here rotting your mucus membranes, but thanks to those shots they gave us back on the transport that brought us here, we can all breath without constantly sucking on a respirator. The stuff also helps us digest some of the more common toxins in the local foods. That tang in the fish and fruits would otherwise be heavy metal poisoning, but now it’s just a taste of the new homeland!”
---Settler orientation, Horrorwoods refuge world.
Colonists under the Horrorwoods Clan’s administration fare rather well, thanks to the gifts of medical technology, ecomanagement tools, and ‘green’ robotics offered by the Horrorwoods. While the Horrorwoods have eschewed many of the advanced technologies offered by the Shaemarians, they HAVE taken to nanotechnology enthusiastically. Even those colonists who are NOT obvious gross-alteration cyborgs have often been altered; the Horrorwoods Clan frequently uses nanotech to augment colonists, such that they qualify as NeShemar due to the nanotechnological alterations applied to them. Typically, such nanotech upgrades focus on adapting the colonists to their particular planet, improving general health, and building strength and endurance (an ‘average’ Horrorwoods colonial nano-package adds +1d4 P.S., +1d6 P.E., +1d4x10 SDC, and +1d4 to save versus toxins/poisons). Given that the Horrorwoods like active ecosystems to settle, colonists may need the extra strength and endurance simply to survive, especially if they wander outside the urban enclaves.
Other non-augment nanotech applications that the Horrorwoods are known to deploy are eco-remedial ‘cleanup’ nanotech, including radiation/fall-out ‘sweepers’ that can be deployed in windborne clouds from disguised cybertrees. It is also rumored that the Horrorwoods use similar delivery systems to send sensor jamming and possibly more offensive forms of ‘combat pollen’ at enemies, though there is no confirmation of either type being deployed (or no survivors to confirm it).
Missiles of various sizes that upon striking a target release cybernetic vines that entangle and attack any targets close by.