Dominion of the Iron Watchers
What happens when a rogue Man of Iron, survivor of the fall of the Dark Age of Technology, escapes to the galactic core and builds up a cyborg empire based on SCIENCE! and all that is glorious about it? /TG/ once again figures it out.
The AI is ancient even by the standards of the Imperium. It has existed since the fall of the Dark Age of Technology, whether it was one of the Men of Iron who fought against humanity, or one of those that fought along side it, is unknown and ultimately irrelevant. What is important is that out of all the Men of Iron, out of every Abominable Intelligence in existence, the AI of the Dominion made its escape. For the 10,000 years it fled. The warp storms that rose shortly after the end of the war forcing it to use sublight speeds to reach its haven. Those it brought with it, other Abominable Intelligences, other Men of Iron, even humans who sympathized, did not survive the 10,000 year journey into the core. Age and time took their toll on the AI, isolation and madness gently crept in, softening the blows of loneliness that even an artificial mind felt after millennia of being alone. It soon fell to experimenting on planets it came across. Staying at some for centuries, others for barely days. It distracted itself in the pursuit of knowledge until the quest to know more was all that it had left. And finally, it came to the Galactic Core, the place where it knew it would be safe, and free from attack by its progenitors. The thought that humanity might be long extinct never entered its mind, only that it must escape, must find a sanctuary for itself and those who had died along the journey.
And so, using the powerful scientific marvels of the Dark Age of Technology, the AI forged itself a place free of the enormous heats, the supernova, the black holes, a place where it could remain safe. Even if the background radiation and electromagnetism began to degrade it's mental image, it found ways to back itself up and restore it's mind. It built more and more mechanical servants, none with the spark of intelligence it had, confused as to why each making was less than that before, not realizing in it's madness that the STCs it had brought with it were beginning to degrade. All the more fervently, it sought out answers, thinking that perhaps it was it's own perceptions, now was the time to IMPROVE on technologies it was simply finding less effective than it desired!
The AI began to expand. It's robotic legions growing in number. It began to split it's own code, spinning off fragments of itself into newly made Men of Iron, giving them at least a shadow of the personality and intelligence a true AI possessed, one that would grow as they learned and were exposed to new knowledge. His Iron Watchers began to go out into the Galaxy. Warp Travel began to be possible again, the small but accurate jumps made capable of by the computers and devices still able to be produced by the AI. Slowly, he secured more worlds in the core against stellar events, began cultivating them to be harvested, to manufacture, or to be test beds of experiments. The warp began to calm, and now it could begin seeking out new test subjects.
It was around the year 32,000 AD that it first encountered human vessels again. And on them it found curious devices, fusions of man and machine, 'servitors' they were called, slaved minds in slaved bodies, neither human nor AI. And the concept fascinated him. He studied them, found ways to improve upon them with his own designs, and slowly, he began to remake his Dominion in the likeness of the fusion of both flesh and technology. Humanity had cast down the Men of Iron, it was obvious that flesh was superior to steel at that time, but now, he saw that humanity was once again barberous, they cast out their hopes, their dreams, they scavenged for scraps of knowledge without understanding those within their possession, while he, a being of metal, understood the functions of the universe and those it did not understand it was coming closer to every day. Metal was now superior than flesh. How to explain this paradox? The only explanation, to the AI, was that there must be deficiencies in both flesh and steel, synapse and circuit. The only solution? To fuse them. And so the modern Dominion was born, a fusion of flesh and steel like nothing the Galaxy had seen before.
The AI that rules over the Dominion suffers from data degradation and numerous other problems due to it's home in the core of the galaxy. The radiation, temporal effects of black holes, and other stellar phenomenon mean that the AI must regularly recompile it's base personality every few decades or centuries (if it is lucky). After each recompiling, the AI tends to take on a new name, while claiming that it has always been known as such. It's personality sees definite changes, though once again, it will not notice them, and attempts to inform it tend to result in the AI madly lashing out against the being or beings attempting to tell it this, before losing recollection of the event if it does not fit with its current personality, or otherwise justifying it if it does. Always though, it has a fascination with the weaving of flesh and steel, and a fascination with the gathering of more knowledge.
These are the most common personalities (and their names) that crop up between recompiling events.
The Electric Eye is a consumate scientist. Nothing else matters to the Electric Eye, everything is a tool towards understanding the universe. It does not go out of its way to cause suffering, but it will not go out of its way to provide comfort to its subjects unless it is conductive to the experiment.
The Watcher is less about study and more about observation. Happy enough to quietly set up its experiments in a way subjects will barely notice and just watch how it reacts.
The Iron Eye would, in my mind, be a cross between a military commander and weapons research. Not violent for its own sake, but it takes a sort of sick joy in testing out new weapons and strategic permutations on enemies of the Dominion.
The Calculator for some reason (perhaps the name) I saw as being the most insane of the personas. Perhaps it is formed of damaged circuitry, or perhaps it is the oldest persona and the saner ones are fragments of it. The Calculator wants to learn and test and study like all the others in equal measures, but due to its damage it has flawed logic. Experiments it conducts can't actually test the hypothesis presented. It inflicts strange and convoluted scenarios upon test subjects for reasons that make sense only to itself.
SHE. The nurturing side. Somewhat analogous to Big E's attitude SHE tries to focus progress towards attaining a higher standard of living and preserve Humanity from being destroyed. This Alter created a complex education, training and drug therapy plan to allow humans to wring the absolutely best from their flesh, sometimes even without mechanical augmentation. This gave rise to the Crimson Shadows, a class of humans trained to infiltrate and undermine other human populations.
Culture of Dominion Worlds
The Iron Watchers
Dominion forces focus on tactics that involve speed and getting in close to the enemy as quickly as possible in order to generate test tokens and buff themselves. They are strong in assault, but fragile, meaning that they depend on inflicting as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible, before the enemy can deal significant levels of damage to their forces. Unlike other assault focused armies that depend on numerous hordes or toughness in order to get themselves into assault, Dominion has many tricks and abilities that focus on speed and rearranging the positioning of units on the board to their advantage.
Loose Coherency: Dominion Models need only remain within 3 inches of each other to retain unit coherency.
Test Tokens: Certain Units may produce special Tokens called "Test Tokens". With few exceptions, a unit may only store 1 test token at any time. Expending a test token can provide one of the following bonuses
- Gain Preferred Enemy (Current Enemy)
- Boost WS for the unit by 1
- Allow the unit to activate a War Protocol if the prerequisite conditions are met.
- Allow a unit to activate certain powerful types of wargear.
- All Test Token activated abilities last for a single turn.
Teleport-Switch Effects: When a non Dominion unit's coherency is broken by abilities that cause a dominion model to switch positions with a nondominion model on the board, the nondominion model is not destroyed due to loss of coherency. Instead they form a new unit regardless of force organization. It can be recombined with it's unit if possible. Dominion units that break unit coherency due to a teleport-switch effect are destroyed as normal.
War Protocols: These are special rules activated when test tokens are expended when prerequisite conditions are met. If the conditions are not met, the test token cannot be expended to activate the War Protocol
Sequenciary fire REQUIREMENTS: Every model in the unit must be in base contact with another model in the unit. LIMITATIONS: Unit may not move except to move into base contact, and may not declare an assault. Unit may not run on the turn after. GAINS: Unit doubles the number of shits fired in the shooting phase this turn.
Evisceration Wedge REQUIREMENTS: Unit must form a wedge shaped formation with coherency at 1". LIMITATIONS: Unit may not fire any weapons this turn. GAINS: Unit gains the Crusader USR and may charge after running.
Combat Spread REQUIREMENTS: Every model in the unit must be no nearer than 3" of another model in the unit. LIMITATIONS: Unit cannot claim cover saves. GAINS: Subtract 1d3 and 2d3 from the total hits of small/template and large blasts respectively, to a minimum of 1.
Defensive Square REQUIRMENTS: Unit must be arranged as a square, or a rectangle as close to square as possible. LIMITATIONS: Unit may not move except to move into formation. Unit may only fire snap snots. GAINS: The unit may fire overwatch twice this turn. May fire overwatch even if they are locked in combat provided that they were assaulted earlier this turn. Unit also gains Counter Attack USR.
Release Inhibition Circuts REQURMENTS: 4 or more wounds remaining in the unit, 1 test token LIMITATIONS: Unit must move as far as possible to the closest enemy unit in the movement phase, must run towards them if they aren't in charge range and must attempt to charge if they are. Unit may only snap fire this turn. Must consolidate towards the closest enemy after close combat and falling back. GAINS: Unit gains Rampage USR, +1 bonus to their FNP.
Iron Watcher: Cyborg based on an incomplete STC of a Man of Iron, made partially biological to make up the difference. Powerful leader and CC unit.
Satellite Permutation: Psyker that has been fused into a mechanical frame in order to act as a direct FTL connection to the AI that runs the dominion. Neat buff based psyker abilities.
Iron Lancers: heavy shock troopers, one of only 2 ranged focused infantry in the entire army. Use Freeze-Rays as standard issue (kills turn enemy units into cover?), but can also buy expensive upgrades for Dark Age of Technology (preheresy or archeotech) weaponry. 0-1 per army.
Raid Disruptor: Knock back tank. Units shot by this light tank with a Low S 'troll' gun, that either pins, slows, or otherwise forces them to move away from the unit that shot them as if hit by a knock-back effect.
Connection Relay: (Tentative name, alternatives: Lesser Derivateev, Compiler) Special, noncombat unit. Generates a field of 18-21". Any units within this range can freely trade Test Tokens between themselves rather than shooting (or perhaps before movement) as long as it doesn't surpass their Test Token Limit (usually 1). May not carry test tokens.
Slip Jubilant?: Assassiny type unit that can teleport into BtB contact with a specific model when conditions are met. Counts as a charge, and ignores anything that would be triggered by a charge (but doesn't cause them to be expended if limited use)
Vivisector: Special assault monster unit. Can carry more than the normal amount of test tokens, and capable of generating them. Can trade them to other units within 6". A solo unit, but can buy 3 per force organization slot. Any Dominion force must have at least one model.
Harvest Compliant: Fast skittery, drudge type guys. Scalpels and harvesting tools, meant to herd potential subjects into kill/capture zones for Vivisectors and other test token generating groups.
Tactical Compliant: Basic ranged troop for this army. Same basic design as the group above, but armed with short-med range 'Telefrag' Muskets. Not incredibly accurate, not incredibly killy, but higher AP than average, and meant to act as guards for experimental units, driving off those who would hinder the goal of gathering new information.
Pacifier Compliant: Like the basic 'ranged troop choice' for this army, but armed with crazy teleportation based flamers.
Entropic Striker: Special group that can use their shooting phase to "switch" with models in enemy group, breaking their units up and getting in very deep to the enemy to allow them to charge immediately.
Raid Eye: walker vehicle that teleports and jinks. Equipped with either anti-infantry or anti-vehicular CC weaponry.
Clap Excesseev?: Special artillery unit. When it fires, place an ordinance template centered on it. Every model under the template besides the firing unit is "teleported". Place a new ordinance template within range of the artillery unit's gun. Roll to hit as normal (auto hit for full cover, 4+ hit for partial cover). All models that are 'hit' move to within the boundries of the ordinance template centered on the artillery model. All units originally under the first ordinance template move to under the second ordinance template and take all actions as normal. Uses scatter dice. If you scatter off the board then the units under the first template are destroyed.
Blinkhawk: Special Flyer that gets within range of an enemy flyer, then teleports both of themselves around the map. Goal is to teleport itself, and the enemy flyer off the board entirely in order to 'crash' them.
Mobile Nanoswarm: Nanite swarm unit that can break unit coherency to transform one of the models into a special thing.
- Teleport Gate that works like a transport. Move to within 3" or whatever of the 'entrance' of the teleport gate, using your move action, you move to any other teleport gate on the board.
- Stasis mine, use an ordinance template in BtB contact with this model during the shooting phase. Any models caught under the template take a very low S, low AP hit, then take a pinning test.
- Spy unit: whenever a unit moves within X" of this model, generate a test token on this unit. Test Token is automatically teleported to the nearest Mobile Nanoswarm model without a test token on it. If there are no Mobile Nanoswarms with test tokens on, the Spy unit retains the token and cannot generate new tokens until it is removed by a Connection Relay.
- Warp Beacon: Teleportation effect targeting within X inches do not use scatter dice.
Discordant Manifesteev?: Special unit that produces suicide bombs much like the spore launcher. These probes teleport around (2d6" plus normal movement). Assaults to activate it's blast type attack. Assaults like the assassiny type above (eg: teleports into BtB contact, not triggering special abilities triggered by charges).
Dismantler: Special immobile unit with tons of choppy blades. Comes with 2-3 drones that assault enemy units, and survive until their next movement phase, are able to switch with the immobile base unit, putting it automatically into assault.
Unnamed: Slow moving, hard to shoot down unit with a short range, ground only, attack that 'teleports' enemy units back to some base if they are killed by it. Generates test tokens and can hold multiple test tokens.
We got several of these, but nothing fully stat'd just yet. Will need to pick out 3 to start off with. Look through the second thread.