Illustration by AntiMingebag on DeviantArt

As I mentioned back in the post about my campaign setup on this game, I can’t post adaptations of the Dreams of Ruin creatures here without violating the book’s license. What I can do, however, is post stats for their gear in this campaign, since it’s different from what’s in the original book. Today, we’ll focus on the Puppets of Ruin, which are the only alien the group met in their first operation that actually uses gear.

Original-flavor Puppets of Ruin carry magic swords, bolt-action rifles, concussion hand grenades, and ocasionally a RPG launcher. That’s a terrifying loadout for anyone in the medieval fantasy worlds they’re meant to attack! With this equipment, and at 3 Hit Dice, they’re supposed to be superior to any conventional force of 1 HD soldiers or even 2 HD humanoids. That would be even truer in a GURPS campaign, where they’re taking TL 7 weapons into a TL 3 world. Even powerful adventurers wouldn’t be able to face them head-on!

However, in this campaign they’re attacking a late TL8 world, which means their original equipment would actually be less advanced than what’s typically available to an outfit like X-COM! That feels wrong to me - it’s not a proper X-COM game unless even the “weakest” alien has a technological edge over your soldiers. Therefore, I decided they needed an upgrade. And now, for the first time, I’m publishing stats for their weapons:

Puppet Gear

These weapons and their corresponding ammunition are grown by the Body Trees rather than manufactured. Their construction and functionality is equivalent to Tech Level 9. They tend to have a curvy, organic look, with no unecessary seams. Each individual item is slightly different from all others, though ammunition for a specific weapon will always fit another weapon of the same type.

Weapon stats are all as described in the Basic Set, with two exceptions. Weight is in kilograms, not pounds, because I like the metric system more; and monetary cost is not listed, because I didn’t use it in the campaign itself. Filling a cost in shouldn’t be too hard for those GMs that want it, and to figure out an item’s weight in pounds just multiply the listed numbers by 2.

These days, I prefer to use the alternate Guns specialties presented in Pyramid #3/65: Alternate GURPS III. I did so in the campaign itself, and I do so in this article, though I also note what Basic Set skills the weapons require.

Puppet Sword

Around 1 meter long, this sword has a straight double-edged blade made of a ceramic/metal composite material and a substantial handguard similar to that of a cavalry saber. As puppets are more proficient in melee combat than just about any typical modern soldier, this is probably their most dangerous weapon if they happen to be within easy reach of their targets.

Treat this as a Superfine (p. UT163) backsword (p. MA227 or LT66). It’s used with the Broadsword skill. All puppets have one.

TL Weapon Damage Reach Parry Weight ST
9 Puppet Sword sw+3(2) cut 1 0 1.5 10
    or thr+3(2) imp        

Puppet Rifle

This is a short, semi-automatic carbine firing caseless 7.77mm rounds with an Electrothermal-Chemical (ETC) action. It contains no targetting electronics, but the puppets’ own senses and link with the forest more than compensate for this. It’s made from the same materials as the sword and self-cleaning, requiring no regular maintenance. It’s extremely reliable and won’t malfunction unless some external factor lowers its Malf.

The Puppet Rifle is fired with Guns (Longarm), or Guns (Rifle) if using the Basic Set skills. All puppets have a fully loaded rifle plus 3 or 4 extra magazines. The Trees of Woe bear extra reloads as fruit, so they can resupply if they have access to a thicket.

TL Weapon Damage Acc Range Weight RoF Shots ST Bulk Rcl
9 Puppet Rifle 7d+2 pi 4 750/4500 3/0.33 3 20(3) 9 -4 2

Puppet Grenade

This is a concussion grenade with an advanced plastic explosive filling and a soft outer shell that limits fragmentation. It’s used with Throwing, and every puppet carries from 1 to 3. These also grow from the Trees of Woe, so puppets near a thicket will be profiligate in their use.

The Puppet Grenade is essentially a TL 9 HEC hand grenade (p. UT146 and UT154).

TL Weapon Damage Weight Fuse Bulk
9 Puppet Grenade 8dx2 cr ex 0.5 2 -2

Puppet RPG

This weapon is a thin launch tube with handles and iron sights, firing a 77mm over-caliber warhead which vaguely resembles a RPG-7 round. It takes 3 seconds to set up. While launchers and their ammo are also provided by the forest, they appear at a slower rate, and only where the Trees of Woe are at their densest. Only about 1 in 7 puppets has a launcher, and will typically carry from 1 to 3 rounds for it. Its squad mates might carry extra rounds as well.

The launcher has a hazardous backblast that causes 2d burning damage. It uses Guns (LAW), which has the same name in both skill systems.

TL Weapon Damage Acc Range Weight RoF Shots ST Bulk Rcl
9 Puppet RPG 6dx8(10) cr exp 2 10/1000 9/2.5 1 1(4) 9 -6 1
  linked 6dx3 cr exp                

Using the Arsenal of Ruin

These weapons have other campaign roles aside from equipping the Puppets of Ruin! They occupy the same niche as lasers in the original X-COM or magnetic weapons in the 2015 XCOM 2, using technology that’s a step up from what’s initially available to human soldiers but not as good as what the alien masterminds have at their disposal.

Unlike the alien weapons from the X-COM computer games, they can be easily operated by humans and contain no biometric locks, self-destruct failsafes or anything of the sort. Someone who came across one of them lying on the floor could just pick it up and use it, assuming they had the appropriate skills.

This is by design! The Forest wants people to commit violence within its borders, and is only too happy to provide them with the tools to do so. Any local Servants of Ruin drawn to its borders will soon find themselves well-supplied with these weapons, and possibly in command of a puppet posse. Even people who aren’t quite as evil might be gifted with weapons as a temptation. They are also chock-full of spores, so taking them beyond the forest’s borders aids the spread of the Dreams.