Flintlocks & Fireballs
“People who crush and snort Etherite turn into monsters. I have chunks of it implanted in me.”
— Simon Nine-Five, Blazer mercenary
- The Blazer background replaces the Dragonborn race.
- Your dragonbreath ability represents your ability to blast elemental energy from your eyes, but is mechanically identical.
- Instead of gaining +2 to the STR and CHA abilities, you gain +2 to STR and CON.
Blazers are the Empire’s latest advance in magitech engineering: individuals who have undergone an unknown process leaving them with chunks of Etherite crystal embedded in their skin. The Blazer treatment increases physical strength and, more importantly, gives a person the capacity to blast gouts of elemental power from their eyes.
The first batch of Blazers were recruited from condemned criminals and the destitute, and placed directly into the Imperial Legions’ front lines. Their capability as soldiers was a roaring success, but the combination of belonging to what was effectively a penal battallion and the trauma of having large chunks of magical crystal embedded in one’s body led to mass mutiny and defection. Many of the first batch of Blazers live as outlaws these days, since they have a hard time passing themselves off as human.
When creating the second batch, the Empire learned from their mistakes. All Blazers are now tattooed with an identification number and psychologically conditioned to ensure loyalty to the Empire. After five years’ service in the Legions, they are given papers proclaiming their freedom. Even so, Blazers are far more prone to being stopped by the Legions — especially since a number of the first batch have forged documents and tattooes, and since a number of the second have managed to break their programming and join the rebellion.
Three Blazer rebels
Samir Seven-Two is a Blazer fighter, placed at the head of a squad of second-generation Blazers and assigned to guard his homeland of Arakesh. When the uprising came, Samir saw that his first loyalty was to his squadron, and that the only way to keep them safe was for him to side with the rebels. Since then, Samir’s conditioned loyalty to the Empire has been increasingly eroded; he still fights guilt at betraying his former masters, but he also realises that this isn’t his guilt: it’s guilt that’s been implanted into him. Samir ultimately hopes to find some way to free the other Blazers who form the Empire’s front lines: not for the benefit of the rebellion, but for their own.
Shelle Aught-Gamma-Eight is a Rose Knight, and a recent convert. When her first-generation squadron went rogue, they survived for a while on petty theft and banditry before their raid on a caravan was stopped in its tracks by a Knight who’d been travelling with them, Adam Lansing. Shelle — as she called herself back then — was wise enough to surrender, and willing to listen to what Adam had to say. He, for his part, saw the opportunity to help a person in need. In time, she shed her number and took the name Shelle-of-the-Cup. Shelle sees the Rebellion as the place where she can do the most good, though she still struggles to keep her vows as her work brings into contact with ‘friends’ from her life before the Blazer treatment.
Jack Ninety-Knife is only working for the Rebellion because nobody else is willing to accept someone so unbalanced. Before his recruitment he bribed, borrowed or stole as many Order Mage texts as he could in order to understand his condition. The doctrine of Fernal Absolutism clicked with him: the Empire had been stronger than him, and exerted their dominion over him by subjecting him to this transformation. Now he seeks to reverse this, and take control of the entire Empire for himself. Jack figures that all he has to do in order to gain the power he needs is exert the same dominion over the etherite embedded in his body. He’s been experimenting with trying to carve it like spellgems, which so far has only produced agonising visions and psychotic fits. But, Jack figures, that’s obviously because he hasn’t yet got it right.