Illustration by AntiMingebag on DeviantArt

In their second field-op, our brave X-COM squad saw new enemies with new equipment, so it’s time to update the Arsenal of Ruin! This post will focus on the gear carried by the Elite Puppets, also known as White Masks.

White Mask Gear

White Masks are elite Puppets of Ruin in service to the Ebon Masters. Like their “lesser” brethren, they are borne as fruit from the Trees of Ruin, but they only appear in the heart of the woods where the Trees of Woe are older. At the stage where our campaign stopped, there were still no trees old enough to drop elite puppets, so the ones the party met are all “imported” from off-world.

In the original Dreams of Ruin material, elite puppets carried TL 8 military equipment equivalent to that of a first-world military soldier: automatic assault rifles and more modern rocket launchers. For this campaign, they had to step up their game, as that sort of gear is starting equipment for my PCs.

Like the equipment carried by normal puppets, all of this gear is produced by the trees themselves along with the puppet that wears it. The only “custom” addition by the Ebon Masters here is painting the masks on their armors white to denote rank within their organization. This equipment is meant to be more advanced than anything carried by modern Earth infantry, but it’s still considered somewhat cheap and low-end by the aliens.

Puppet Assault Rifle

Compared to the standard-issue puppet rifle seen in Part 1, this bullpup design fires a lighter 7mm round at a much higher rate of fire. It has an electrothermal-chemical (ETC) action and uses the High-Cyclic Controlled Bursts rule from High-Tech, p. 83.

This weapon also has an integral underbarrel grenade launcher that fires 25mm rounds with greater force and accuracy than its TL 8 counterparts.

The Puppet Assault Rifle lacks any targetting electronics, as the puppet’s supernatural senses fill the same role. It is otherwise extremely reliable and easy to operate, being able to work for years in adverse conditions without regular maintenance. It is operated with Guns (Longarm), or with Guns (Rifle) and Guns (Grenade Launcher) under the standard rules.

TL Weapon Damage Acc Range Weight RoF Shots ST Bulk Rcl
9 Puppet Assault Rifle 7d pi 4 1100/4500 3.5/0.5 9# 50+1(3) 9 -4 1
  Grenade Launcher 4d pi++ or as grenade 4 360/2200 1 3(3) 1

The weapon is usually loaded with standard ammunition (in table), but it’s perfectly capable of firing APDS (9d(2) pi-) or APEP (7d(3) pi-) rounds. Both are would ruin the day of those players who think their vests-with-plates make them immune to puppet weaponry. Even without armor-piercing ammo, they’re still smart enough to aim for the arms and legs if they notice center-of-mass shots don’t result in an immediate kill.

The grenade launcher is usually loaded with TL9 HE or thermobaric warheads (Ultra-Tech p. 153 and 155), though the Ebon Masters can certainly issue crueler and/or higher-TL loads to their servants if the mission calls for it.

White Mask Armor

The White Mask Armor suit covers the torso and head in rigid plates of the same composite material used to make puppet swords. The neck and limbs are covered in a mesh of ultra-tech ballistic fibers equivalent to Reflex armor (from Ultra-Tech). All of this material is colored a dull gray, except for the helmet plates, which are white.

The suit is sealed, chemically-coated and contamination-proof, but does not feature ports for air tanks or even a visor, as its intended wearers have no need for such things. In fact, it can’t even be removed from the puppet wearing it without being cut open.

The White Mask Armor provides DR 30 to the torso, groin and head. It provides DR 20 against cutting and piercing damage and DR 10 against all other damage types to the limbs and neck. While DR 30 is a little less than the DR 35 provided by a TL 8 assault vest with trauma plates, this DR is not semi-ablative like that of the plates, and is more than enough to stop rounds from an X-COM issue assault rifle. The full suit is also about a bit lighter than the starting “heavy armor” package for PCs and provides more DR to all non-torso locations.

TL Name Location DR Weight
9 White Mask Armor torso, groin, head 30 15kg
    arms, legs, neck 20/10  

Using White Mask Gear

Each Elite Puppet wears a White Mask Armor suit, and carries a Puppet Assault Rifle with 4 reloads for the rifle and 2 for the grenade launcher. They also each carry a sword and a couple of hand grenades, and may carry a Puppet RPG or extra rounds for one carried by a squadmate. These items are described in Part 1.

These weapons also fall within the “second tier” of my tech tree. Researching these weapons would have allowed X-COM to make similar versions for themselves, which would have the advantage of not being tainted by spores. They never did get a “researchable” White Mask corpse, but if they had they could have obtained a version of their armor that’s actually fit for human use. Having access to at least this much would enable the PCs to better stand up to the sort of alien that would show up later on, as their successes mounted.