Monday, January 14, 2013

Collector Forces for Stars Without Number

In my continuing quest to combine my favorite sci-fi settings with Stars Without Number, I present my take on the Collector forces. Once again, there are some changes with established Mass Effect canon, becuase I'm not really using the Reapers as presented in the games the same way in my setting.

Also, much of the text is again snagged from the excellent Mass Effect Wiki.

The Collectors are an enigmatic race that lives somewhere beyond the Omega 4 Relay, an Elder Relay within the same system as the space station, Omega. They are rarely seen in the Terminus Sector itself, let alone Concord space, and are generally regarded as a myth by much of the known galaxy. Definite sightings of Collectors have been made on Omega every few centuries.

They are most well known for their odd trade requests for which they offer new technologies, often of a startling level of advancement. Their requests usually involve the trade of living beings in odd numbers and varieties, such as two dozen left-handed salarians, sixteen sets of batarian twins, a krogan born of parents from feuding clans, or two dozen "pure" quarians who have never left the Migrant Fleet due to illness, importance to the fleet, or disability. One of their current interests is in healthy human psychics. No one knows what happens to the individuals concerned after the exchange is completed, but their use of Husks (see their entry) and Scions (see entry) offers clues.

The Collectors resemble human-sized bipedal insects with a chitinous exoskeleton, four eyes, and a distinct, large, tapering head along with fully developed wings that allow them to fly over short distances. Each Collector appears to be little more than a drone with no distinctions between individuals. Although they do not appear to communicate vocally, since none are heard speaking, they have been heard to cry out in pain when shot or killed.

The Collectors themselves are rarely seen since they usually operate through agents to make their deals. It has been speculated that the Collectors make these strange requests because of strange fetishes or gruesome culinary tastes. However, it is more likely that they perform genetic experiments on these subjects. Regardless of the possible danger, their requests are often granted by fringe groups because the technology the Collectors offer in return is often extremely valuable, giving any race who receives it an immediate advantage before it becomes adapted to the galactic community.

The Collectors are controlled by a single leader, known as the Collector General, who can possess any member of its species at any time, instantly turning them into the most dangerous Collector on the battlefield. When a Collector is possessed by the leader the outer surface of their body appears to crack open, revealing an orange glow that resembles molten rock.

The Collectors do not engage in direct combat, preferring instead to use "hit and run" tactics. A Collector abduction force usually consists of a single Collector Cruiser carrying many troops and Seeker Swarms. They use the swarms to paralyze their enemies and quickly send in light ground forces to mop up and take prisoners. When confronted with sufficiently heavy resistance, Collectors flee.

Collector Drone

AC 15
HD 3
AB +4
Dmg 2d6 energy rifle or 1d6 claws
Skill +1
Group 1d8
Save 14+
Move 30’, Fly 50’ (see below)
Morale 8

Collector drones are the standard Collectors that most people hear about when tales of this species are told. They are armed with strange, organic looking, energy rifles. They can fly across short distances for one round before needing to land. They can fly again after a round of rest and their flight comes with a very noticeable buzzing sound.

Collector Drones can be controlled by a Collector General. These “Harbingers” take on an appearance of nearly bursting with energy. When a Collector General takes direct control of a drone, use the Harbinger stats below.

Collector Drones have limited cognitive abilities, but they do have access to the Stealth skill, but use of this skill is only applicable while walking, not while flying.

“Harbinger” Drone

AC 15
HD 5
AB +7
Dmg 2d6 energy rifle or 1d8 claws or 3d6 psionic blast
Skill +2
Group 1
Save 13+
Move 30’
Morale 10

Harbingers are Collector Drones in which the Collector General has assumed control off. The transformation takes 1 round, during which the Drone can take no action. Collector Generals only take control of undamaged drones. The drone takes on an appearance as if it were bursting with energy. This transformation destroys the drone’s wings, making it incapable of flight. This level of control can be maintained for only 20 minutes before drone is completely consumed by the psychic energies fueling it. The drone is killed even if control is released before this time is up. The energies reduce the drone to ash.

When dealing with other species, a Collector General assumes control of a Drone. Outside of meeting a General, this is the only way that other species are able to converse with Collectors.

In addition to the increased stats, Harbingers can fire a blast of psionic energy every other round instead of making a regular energy rifle attack. Plus, the energy in their shells grants them a short of personal shield that ignores 4 points of damage from every attack that hits it. This is unlike typical personal shields that will decay with each hit as this level of damage reduction stays constant. Finally, the appearance of a Harbinger has a bolstering effect on any drones within 100’ of the Harbinger, granting them a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls while a Harbinger is active.

Collector Generals can only assume control of one Drone at a time. Once either a Harbinger is destroyed by combat or by the psychic energy used to assume control, they cannot create another Harbinger for 1d6 rounds.

Collector General

AC 14
HD 7
AB +7
Dmg 1d6 claws
Skill +2
Group 1
Save 12+
Move 20’
Morale 6

Collector Generals are the rarely seen leaders of Collector groups. They typically stay aboard their starships, directing the flow of combat from the safety of their command centers. It is unknown if these are the highest form of Collector life, but they are the highest form currently known.

Outside of being able to control a drone, Generals appear to have very little in the way of combat ability. If anyone should enter into combat with a General, it will attempt to flee as quickly as possible, directing drones to keep the attackers at bay until a safe distance can be reached. Generals cannot take any actions while in control of a drone, so they will only do so when assured of their safety.

Collector Web

AC 12
HD 2
AB Not Applicable
Dmg None
Group 1
Save 14+
Move 20’ hover
Morale 10

Collector Webs are creations of the Collectors to go where their Seeker Swarms (see entry) either cannot go for some reason or have been neutralized. The webs are not really webs; they are small energy transmitters that distort space and time in a small distance around their epicenter not unlike a very weak singularity. Dark energy writhes and coalesces around the center that looks somewhat like a mass of living webs (though some have said it looks like a flurry of bat-like creatures swarming around a central point) stretching out to a radius of 20’. Anyone caught in this web is slowed down to half movement speed, and will automatically fail any Evasion save attempts. Collectors use these creations to aid in the capture and defeat of enemy forces. The Collectors themselves appear to be immune to the effects of the Collector Webs.

The only real defense Collector Webs have is that their center, the only part of a Collector Web that is solid and attackable, is difficult to discern due to the writhing dark energy field. Anyone attacking a Collector Web suffers a -2 penalty to their attack roll.


AC 18
HD 12
AB +12
Dmg 3d6 particle beam or 4d8 Death Choir (see below)
Group 1
Save 9+
Move Fly 30’
Morale 12

The Praetorian is a slow-moving flying Collector construction that consists of thirty deformed Husks fused together. It is armed with powerful particle beams, and protected by powerful armor (equivalent to vehicle armor 5).

The Praetorian’s most fearsome attack (as if its particle beams weren’t enough) is its Death Choir. If foes are within 30’ of a Praetorian, it will drop to the ground crushing anyone beneath it for 3d6 points of damage that fail an Evasion save to dodge out of the way. After a round of charging up (during which it cannot do anything else), it unleashes a blast of energy that does 4d8 points of damage to all within 30’ of the Praetorian.


AC 16
HD 8
AB +8
Dmg 3d10 (scion cannon)
Group 1d2
Save 11+
Move 20’
Morale 12

Though the exact fate of species captured by the Collectors is unclear, the humanoid appearance of the scions gives ghastly clues. The scion's frame and skull are similar to those of a human or asari, but the bone structure is overlaid with a metallic resin. Posthumous examination of their bodies reveals a skin tone resembling that of husks, but their transformation process seems more extensive. Like husks, they are cybernetically modified on a nano-scale so they can operate even in hard vacuum. Hoses rather than veins and muscle tissue join major portions of the body together. One arm is replaced with a construct that fits a large rifle, turning the creature into a humanoid weapons platform, and a fleshy sack is supported by the creature's back and head.

These sacks contain brain matter and spinal tissue, too much to have come from just one victim. This indicates scions are an amalgam of several individuals, with one primary victim providing the frame and several "secondaries" providing the flesh for a decentralized semi-mechanical nervous system. This decentralization makes them highly resistant to gunshot wounds; even a headshot is not a certain kill.

The scions' weapons, however, indicate that scions retain some living tissue, or at least sustain some of the same cerebral functions as those of a human psychic. The weapon creates a powerful warp effect. Given the rarity of human psychics, it seems likely that these abominations are granted their psychic abilities through the combination of numerous victims, rather than requiring a psychic victim in the first place.

Scion cannons affect all targets in a line up to 50 meters away. They feel little pain which grants them the ability to ignore 5 points of damage from any attack they suffer.

Seeker Swarms

AC 18
HD 5
AB +3 to +8
Dmg 1d3 + Stasis
Group 1
Save 13+
Move 50’ fly
Morale 10

Seekers are insects bred by the Collectors for use in attacks on colonies to collect specimens for their mysterious uses. An individual Seeker is a dangerous foe in and of itself, but the Collectors release them in swarms, and typically enough swarms to quickly cover and affect a small colony at once. They are large for an insect, about the size of an adult human’s fist. They are also highly aggressive. When a non-Collector lifeform is in sight, they will swoop in and attempt to sting their target; their venom causing a sort of stasis effect of near complete paralysis with only the victim’s eyes being able to move. Seekers have enough venom for 20 stings, once that venom is used up a Seeker dies.

A Seeker Swarm is a mass of flying seekers. Anything living that comes in contact with a Seeker Swarm is automatically attacked. The swarm’s attack roll ignores the AC of any armor that does not fully enclose the wearer, so Leather Jacks and even open helmed Combat Armor does not offer any protection, but Assault Suits and Power Armor does. Deflector Arrays and Personal Shields do not affect Seekers, but a psychic’s Kinetic Shield power will hold Seeker Swarms at bay.

Those that take damage from a Seeker swarm sting must make a Physical Effect save or become perfectly, and instantly rigid. The victim can move his or her eyes and is totally aware of everything going on around them. Psychic victims are unable to use psionic powers.

A swarm that has taken enough damage to be “killed” doesn’t mean that all seekers in the swarm are killed, but have been scattered enough to not be a threat. However, if there are at least three swarms within 100’ of each other that have been scattered, they will reform into a new swarm after 2 rounds from the scattering of the third swarm.

Next up: The Geth!

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