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Gospogs

Design: Jasyn Jones

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Introduction

Gospogs are cannon fodder minions of the High Lords, a mixture of plant matter and dead flesh, who can use tools from both the invaded and invading reality without contradiction. This unique ability offers a lot of story potential, but the official gospogs fail to deliver on this promise.

The official gospogs are monotonous, as all 1st planting gospog are identical, and even higher plantings don’t vary much. All gospog are created the same way by every High Lord, and the creation process itself- planting mysterious seeds in “fields” of dead bodies and waiting weeks and months for them to grow- isn’t very exciting either.

The origin of gospog is problematic. Originally, they were all a product of the omnipotent Orrorshan “occult technology” that gave us the Infernal Machine and Infernal Device, which technology had disappeared by the time the Orrorsh Sourcebook came around. Then there was the “Interview With Evil” origin. The less said about that, the better.

Metaphysically, gospog are supposed to get their unique abilities because they are a “mix of the Living of one reality and the Unliving of another.” Corpses aren’t Living, even using Torg’s baroque definition. By the metaphysics of Torg, gospogs make no sense.

The official gospog are far too limited in their story potential, especially in the early part of an invasion. They require “planting” in a field for a week before any can appear, which means gamemasters are constrained as to when and where they can appear.

They are too limited in form, for nearly all of the plantings, and too limited in their abilities and attributes, for all plantings.

The production of gospogs ought to be a major part of the first wave of an invasion, and ought to offer continuing opportunities for stories, both in fiction and as adventure seeds.

This article revises gospogs to increase story opportunities and variety, while also revising their origin to address their metaphysical difficulties (and to make their origin more interesting).

Revised Gospogs

Gospog as Cannon Fodder

In the official material, gospog were the “orcs” of Torg- undead monsters the players could kill without feeling the slightest tingle of guilt or regret.

However, wasn’t a good decision on the part of the game’s designers. Gospog, of any planting, were not and should never have been mere cannon fodder.

Gospog have unique abilities, they can use tools of either reality natively, can cross storm boundaries at will without being affected by the storms, and can operate as easily in Core Earth as in the invading reality. These are special abilities unique to gospog and available to no other being, even the High Lords themselves. They enable gospog to be used in ways nothing else can be, making them special forces troops. There are a multitude of uses for gospog, and getting shot en masse isn’t one of them.

The Possibility Wars are not conventional wars. Armies and ammo are useless- they do not win the High Lords any territory and will not reclaim territory for Core Earth. High Lords in particular avoid needless deaths. The more living beings within a realm, the faster they drain the cosm’s Possibility Energy.

High Lords avoid battles, unless they’re insane, stupid, or engaging in something so critical and large scale that they need to distract attention from it, and don’t mind sacrificing an opportunity to gain Possibility Energy.

Even if the High Lords needed 10,000 cannon fodder, why waste the utterly unique abilities of a gospog by throwing them at a Core Earth military unit, just to get shot up? There are far better ways to utilize gospogs, and there are plenty of other beings available for cannon fodder.

Every cosm has a lot of cannon fodder, if such is needed, and there is no need to waste the unique and difficult to create gospog. Gospog are not, and never should have been, cannon fodder.

Gospogs are the versatile cross-reality soldiers of the High Lords, used in places and at times their normal agents can’t be. Their utility lies both in their physical resilience (see below) and in their unique relationship with reality.

Gospogs carry with them the High Lord’s invading reality and the invaded reality, giving them access to the highest axioms of either and all World Laws from both. This allows them to use tools from either reality, without a chance of disconnection. It also makes them immune to the reality storms at the edges of their High Lord’s realm (except in those rare instances when transient realities form), which means they can cross the borders with impunity, and even use the storms as cover. Gospog are effective on both sides of the storms, and can cross back and forth at will.

A gospog is created by infecting a Living being of the invaded cosm with an Unliving tool from the invading reality (akin to a talisman), called a transformation seed. The High Lord of a reality designs his transformation seeds (each reality’s is different) in such a way as to empower the seed to transform an individual into a gospog. The seed is also empowered by Possibility Energy in such a way as to allow it to fuse its reality and the reality of the Victim together, forming a being with equal access to both realities.

Overseeing the production of gospog seeds can be a tedious task, and most High Lords empower lieutenants to perform this for them (of course, they monitor these individuals closely), during which time they cannot empower or directly communicate with or control the gospog themselves. Such lieutenants are always possibility-rated, and serve as the nexus between the High Lord and the gospog.

If the lieutenant is slain, the High Lord’s control over his gospog is disrupted until he can empower a new lieutenant (or himself) to create the seeds. This takes time and Possibility Energy, as much as it took to empower the lieutenant in the first place.

Creating a gospog is usually a simple process. The seed is implanted in a host, who must be alive at the time of implantation, where it begins to alter the host’s mind. This process is lengthy, painful, and hellish. The victim feels his mind being melded into a new form and his will being stripped away. Ever after a small part of him remembers who he was and what he lost.

When a transformation seed is used against a victim, it begins the process of physical change (in most cases) and the process of transforming the individual’s reality. Transformation seeds fuse the reality of the seed with the reality of the Living, making the Living a being of two realities at the same time, as has been said a “walking mixed zone.” This process isn’t easy or automatic, and can target possibility-rated individuals as well as ords.

This process is often designed to change the physical form of the victim, according to a pattern determined by the High Lord, and each gospog is or can be unique both physically and mentally- one reality’s gospog looks nothing like another’s. The living being’s skills and attributes are altered by the change, according to a pattern determined by the High Lord (which pattern can varied in any given instance, if the High Lord wishes).

Once the transformation sequence has begun, the person is wholly under the control of the High Lord. However, the full process of becoming a 1st Generation gospog is not complete for a week. If the gospog can be captured during this time and the seed removed (the process varies depending on the type of seed), the transformation can be reversed. The more time that passes, the more difficult this becomes.

The initial transformation creates a basic, or 1st Generation gospog. Roughly 10% of 1st Generation gospogs can be enhanced with addtional transformation seeds, which process increases their skills, attributes, and adds new powers. In all, there are five generations of gospog, each more powerful than the last. Each succeeding generation must be formed from the previous, and about 10% of each generation are capable of being upgraded.

Transformation seeds drain all possibility energy from their victims, ords or stormers, and gopogs cannot receive possibility energy from their reality. The creation of gospogs is a trade off, as each gospog created is one less individual a High Lord can drain Possibility Energy from.

Transformation Mechanics

All 1st-Generation seeds have an Effect Value, normally 16 (plus the Bonus Number generated when applying the seed), which is compared to the victim’s Spirit or reality. The Result Points are read on the appropriate column of the Damage Chart, Ord or Possibility-Rated. The victim takes damage each round for a minute, or 6 rounds. Possibility-rated individuals can “buy off” the damage each round, if they chose to spend a possibility.

If the victim takes 4 wounds during this time, the transformation process begins. If they do not take 4 wounds, the seed cannot overcome their resistance and becomes inactive (though it must be removed via surgery or other methods).

If the victim succumbs to the Transformation seed, the damage is healed within moments. If they do not succumb, or the seed is neutralized (see below for details), the damage inflicted by this process must be healed normally.

The Effect Value of a seed can be higher than 16, though such seeds take more energy to manufacture, meaning the High Lord has less seeds to use. If a High Lord is deliberately targeting a stormer, they will often do just that, as subduing a stormer usually requires a more potent transformation seed.

When a possibility-rated person succumbs to a transformation seed, he is changed, just as an ord is. Such gospog are superior in many ways to standard gospog. This includes higher attributes and more skill adds. They also take damage on the Possibility-Rated damage column, making them far tougher than normal gospog.

Gospogs made from stormers are far more likely to be enhanceable, and so higher generation gospog are more likely to have been created from such 1st-Generation gospogs.

Higher Generation Gospogs
Generation
Weeks
1st
1
2nd
3
3rd
5
4th
7
5th
9

The transformation process takes an increasingly long time generation over generation, and creating each generation involves adding ever-more complex and intricate seeds to the gospog. The higher generation seeds form the basis for the new physical form (if any changes are intended.) For example, a seed that transforms the gospog into an insect might look like plates of chitin.

Once the seed is inserted, the gospog undergoes another transformation, its form and abilities changing to match the template provided in the new seed (which can vary from gospog to gospog according to the designs of the High Lord). The time this process takes is given in the table. Until this amount of time has passed, the gospog won’t have access to any of its new skills, ability scores, or powers, but it can still function normally.

Each higher generation gospog thus represents an increasingly large investment in both time and Possibility Energy. However, each generation is also more powerful.

Transformation seeds, once designed, can be manufactured by anyone with the appropriate skills. High Lords usually have specific subordinates assigned to such duties. Once created, the High Lord expends Possibility Energy to empower the seeds. Empowering a complete unit of gospog (10,000 including all possible 1st through 5th Generation) takes as much effort and Possibility Energy as empowering a stelae.

By default, the gamemaster can assume that most gospogs continue to have the forms and skills they have in the current sourcebooks, though if they wish to alter the forms and abilities of any gospog of any “planting” (or generation), they may do so at will. The new statistics of 1st Generation gospog, the forms of each realms’ 1st Generation gospog (as each is now unique), and the corresponding transformation seeds are all described below.

1st Generation Gospogs

1st Generation gospog made from ords have the usual stats for ords, 56 attribute points and 13 skill points. The skill points can be alloted to any skill native to either reality, though skills only available to possibility-rated individuals (like Nippon Tech martial arts) cannot be chosen.

The stats listed below are those assigned by default. Technically, the gospog’s attributes and skills start out matching that of the host, then slowly change over the week-long transformation, but in most cases this can be ignored.

1st Generation gospog who are created from a possibility-rated victim are transformed according to a special template just for stormers, one with 66 attribute points and 16 skill adds. All seeds are programmed with both templates, as there is no quick and easy way to distinguish ords from stormers.

In addition, gospog who were once possibility-rated can be empowered with skills restricted to possibility-rated beings, though reality is not available, even to gospogs made from stormers. They can never gain that skill, use that skill, possess Possibilities, or spend Possibilities.

Ord Gospog

Dexterity: 9
maneuver: 10
unarmed combat: 12
(plus any two other combat skills, usually fire combat and dodge if available, at +1 apiece)
Strength: 8
climbing: 9
Toughness: 9
Perception: 8
direction sense: 9
find: 11
tracking: 9
Mind: 8
willpower: 9
Charisma: 7
Spirit: 7

Possibility-rated Gospog

Dexterity: 11
maneuver: 12
unarmed combat: 14
(plus any two other combat skills, usually fire combat and dodge if available, at +2 apiece)
Strength: 10
climbing: 11
Toughness: 11
Perception: 9
direction sense: 11
find: 12
tracking: 10
Mind: 9
willpower: 10
Charisma: 8
Spirit: 8

A High Lord can instantly communicate with, and garner information from, any of his gospog anywhere within his stelae network at will. He can pass them specific orders, or simply exert his will to influence them en masse. Gospog are utterly loyal to their High Lord, and will follow all orders to the best of their ability, even to destruction.

Gospog can also communicate with each other using this network, and orders are frequently passed from higher generation gospog to lower generation gospog. From time to time, the High Lord may empower other individuals to use the network, these individuals can send and receive communications as well.

Being formed from people, gospog are as creative and innovative as human beings, though their initiative may be purposely limited by a specific High Lord. If out of communication, such as when outside of the realm, they will continue to carry out their orders until the circumstances become untenable, then return to receive new ones.

Special Rules:

Immunity to Pain: Gospog do not take Shock or K/O damage, they simply ignore those combat results. They cannot be fatigued. They can, however, be knocked down.

Heightened Wound Capacity (+3 wounds): Gospog can take more Wounds than normal. A gospog can take up to 7 Wounds (which represents effectively destroying the body). Gospog with 4 or more Wounds are usually hampered in some way, missing an arm or leg or suffering some other deformity (game effects as gamemaster wishes).

Limited Immunity to Non-Combat Interaction: Gospog are effectively immune to test of wills, intimidation, or taunt. They are as susceptible to trick or maneuver as any creatures with the same attributes. Gospog are also immune to charm and persuasion.

Note: These special rules apply to all gospog.

Saving Victims

Transformation is a gradual process, one that it is possible to arrest and even reverse. Not that this is easy, and as time passes (or the gospog is enhanced and becomes a higher generation) the process becomes increasingly difficult.

Cosm Specific Skills

Aysle: alteration magic
Cyberpapacy: focus
Living Land: faith (any)
Nile Empire: weird science
Nippon Tech: science (electronics)
Orrorsh: occult
Tharkold: occultech

Within the first day after infection, freeing the victim is a matter of a simple skill check, Difficulty Number 12. The specific skill varies by cosm (see the sidebar, left, for the list of appropriate skills). If this check succeeds, the seeds is neutralized (though it still must be removed, via surgery or some other means).

After this day has elapsed the full transformation process has begun, and removing the seed becomes far more difficult. This process is represented by a Dramatic Skill Resolution. This resolution has four steps: A, B, C, and D. Step A and D both use the same skill, though which skill is used depends on the cosm the seed is from (see chart).

There is a base Difficulty Number listed with each step, which Difficulty Number increases every other day during the first week. After that, the Difficulty Number stabilizes, increasing only if the gospog has been enhanced and their generation increased (see table for both modifiers.) This same procedure is used no matter the generation of the gospog, and it will remove all seeds at the same time.

Time/Gen.
Mod.
> 1 Day
0
3 Days
+1
5 Days
+3
7 Days
+5
1st Gen
0
2nd Gen
+1
3rd Gen
+3
4th Gen
+5
5th Gen
+7

These checks can be affected by circumstances, and the gamemaster can apply situational modifiers as he sees fit.

Step A: Restraining the gospog. Once captured, the gospog must be immobilized for the extraction to be successful. This involves neutralizing the seed’s control over the victim, the methods to achieve which depend on the specific means of transformation. Achieving this step also isolates the gospog from his communication network. Cosm specific skill (see chart), Difficulty Number 10.

Step B: Restoring reality. Once the victim has been immobilized, the bond between the seed’s reality and the victim’s reality must be broken. This is a reality skill check, Difficulty Number 12.

Step C: Reawakening victim’s past. This step involves the Storm Knights trying to reach the victim and remind them of their past and their humanity. It is a science (psychology), charm, or persuasion total, Difficulty Number 12. (This total is an exception to the gospog’s immunity to persuasion, and is only possible because the gospog is isolated from the network, and not being asked to take action against its High Lord.)

Step D: Removing the seed. This is the most difficult, and requires not only removing the seed, but doing so in such a way that it reverses any psychological and physical changes the seed has initiated. This is a check of the cosm specific skill (see chart), base Difficulty Number of 13.

Once the process is begun, the characters have 6-10 card flips to succeed (10 if the gamemaster is feeling generous, 6 if he would like to make the players sweat). Each card flip represents an hour of time (rather than the usual 10 seconds), as this process is extremely lengthy.

If all 4 steps are completed before time runs out, the transformation process will reverse itself (undoing any physical and mental changes), this process taking anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. During this time, the victim should be under medical care, as their immune system and other bodily functions are extremely weak.

Once removed, the seed will be inert and can be destroyed. If the neutralization process fails, normally the gospog dies, though in some cases it may break free and attempt to slay its would-be rescuers.

Transformations

The creation of a 1st Generation gospog is a very rapid process, and the gospog thus created are highly useful. Most High Lords make the creation of gospogs a high priority during the initial phase of any invasion. The methods to infect people with seeds are designed to be usable quickly, and on the move.

For example, when Baruk Kaah invaded Shea Stadium, several teams of Jakatts were assigned the task of capturing people and infecting them with transformation seeds. The center of the stadium was used as a makeshift corral, and within an hour or so, Kaah had several hundred immature (but fully functional) 1st Generation gospog.

Living Land

The transformation seed is a tightly bound fist-sized bundle of vines that writhe continuously. The bundle is thrown at (or placed upon) a prospective target. Upon contact, the vines erupt from the bundle, forming a leafy net from their tendrils, wrapping themselves around the victim, after which they begin to secrete an acid and sink into his flesh.

Over the next week, the plants slowly grow within the person’s body, sending shoots throughout their muscles. When the process is complete, they look like humanoid ambulatory plants, composed of vines and leaves, and having green blood.

Aysle

Ayslish seeds are small enchanted gilded metal slivers, usually shaped into arrow or crossbow heads, or small blades, and covered with runes dedicating them to the gods of Corruption, most especially Endrak.

During an invasion, warriors fire arrows tipped with seeds into chosen victims (or stab victims with slivers that have been fitted into specially designed hafts). Once the sliver has penetrated flesh, it sinks into the host, eventually penetrating his heart, where it begins to burn with an unnatural fire. Slowly the fire grows to consume them, burning them alive from the inside out, and when the transformation is complete they bear a strong resemblance to their former selves, though with flames burning in their eyes and mouth.

Nile Empire

The Nile Empire transforms people with special fields of energy, projected from bizarrely shaped rayguns powered by huge backpacks. The rays bathe their targets in coruscating red-and-blue energy, and their forms grow larger, and more monstrous. Over the course of the next week, their features become more and more bestial, and they grow larger, more muscular and more misshapen until they look like neanderthals.

Cyberpapacy

The Cyberpapacy curses its victims with a special miracle, one which can be performed only by a few chosen cyberpriests. The miracle involves holy water and a lit censer, and at the end a brand in the shape of an inverted cross miraculously appears in the center of the victim’s forehead.

The flesh surrounding this cross begins to blacken and swell, and this condition slowly spreads to cover the victim’s entire body, until they have become little more than a bloated, rotting corpse. Their flesh is shot through with, and held together by, a fine mesh of silver wires, which glisten with electrical current.

Nippon Tech

Nippon Tech’s transformation seeds are small capsules containing electronic chips. These capsules can be injected into the victim in any number of ways, through a dart gun, eaten, with a syringe, and so forth. Hachiman arms specializes in creating many other-wise ordinary objects that serve to deliver the chips into a victim’s body.

Once the chip has reached the brain it deploys, sinking small electronic leads into the cerebral cortex and bringing the victim under Kanawa’s control. They do not change physically, and the victim’s memories and personality are carefully preserved. To anyone else, the victim seems completely normal.

The drawback to this surreptitious transformation is that the chip must be carefully planted, and unless it is injected directly into the victim’s temple, it can be a long wait until it reaches the brain. In addition, the transformation into a 1st Generation gospog is very fragile, strong blows to the head can dislodge the chip and break Kanawa’s hold on the victim (anytime the victim would have taken a KO from one blow, the chip has a 10% chance of being dislodged).

Once dislodged, the gosopog is considered to be disconnected from the communication network and uncontrolled. The victim’s personality takes charge again, and they can be taking independent action. 3327 rarely uses gospogs in combat, unless they are specially upgraded 2nd Generation or higher gospogs, whose chips cannot be dislodged.

Orrorsh

Orrorshan transformation seeds vary in appearance, as each is a shoebox-sized shapeshifting ebon amoeba, capable of turning itself into nearly any object of roughly its own size and mass, changing its apparent color, texture, and temperature to match. Such creatures are scattered through Orrorsh before an invasion, but remain in a dormant state until the horror reality is imposed. Once this occurs, lone individuals who touch the object find it coming alive and entering their body. There, it infects the victims brain, and sends tendrils throughout the nervous system, allowing it to control their body.

The effects of each seed differ, according to the will and sense of humor of the Gaunt Man. Some leave the victim’s form intact, that it may act as an Orrorshan agent in society. Others transform the victim into one or another kind of monster (though not, obviously, Horrors).

Higher generation transformation seeds place Corrupt souls within some gospog, allowing them to become Horrors. Not all are so empowered, as without a Corrupt soul, human-looking gospog can evade true sight.

Tharkold

Tharkoldu gospog are created through very direct means: a 13mm Zan magnum is fitted with special ammunition, hollow crystal caseless rounds filled with technomagical nanoparasites (that look like a silvery liquid). The victim is shot with the gun, and the nano-parasites slowly transform their body into living metal, in a manner similar to the mechanization miracle (see pg. 59 of the Tharkold Sourcebook, although the result isn’t identical). The process is as painful as the technodemons can make it.

Plot Seeds

The new gospog were specifically designed with adventure opportunities in mind. They can be used in a variety of ways in published or original modules, and can even be the focus of a scene or act (instead of just being nameless, faceless cannon fodder).

The following are a series of plot seeds, based on the mechanics and concepts of the new gospog. Gamemasters can use them as-is, or as a springboard to their own modules.

Idea: Each new generation requires a new transformation seed, which is customized for the form of the gospog.

Story seed: The players can intercept a shipment of high generation seeds, and destroy/sabotage/reprogram them.  Or they can attack the seed “factory.”

Idea: High Lords can empower a lieutenant to produce the transformation seeds for them.

Story seed: Kill, capture, interrogate, or subvert the lieutenant. If the lieutenant is killed, the gospog become uncontrolled, and their original mind has control once more. In this situation, the gospog frequently revolt and take revenge on their captors.

Idea: Possibility-rated beings can be transformed into gospogs.

Story Seed: Have a major NPC, one the players are allied with, be captured. Alternately, a PC could be infected. In either case, a rescue attempt should be made.

Idea: Squads of individuals armed with transformation seeds make frequent raids, to capture more victims and transform them.

Story Seed: The players are in a town, one they’ve saved from a threat, and they know the NPC’s. The High Lord’s agents come in, and start transforming the NPC’s. In order to save the rest of the town, the PC’s are forced to fight townspeople who have been transformed.

Other story ideas are, of course, possible.

Argument

These gospog are far more versatile than the official variety. The gospog of all “plantings” can vary in attributes, skills, and form as the High Lord wishes (or as gamemasters and writers wish). And having different 1st Generation gospog (and transformation seeds) is just more interesting than the current bland morass of sameness from cosm to cosm.

Creating gospog, “a mix of the Living of one reality and the Unliving of another” from actual living humans, who continue to live, makes more sense than creating them from dead bodies (which would be impossible in the Living Land anyway, preventing them from ever having gospog of the official variety to begin with). Making their creation a power of the Darkness Device is far more sensible than their current murky origins.

These gospog are more flavorful, for all plantings, and more successfully invoke the feel of their respective realities. In particular, the official first planting gospog are useless for Nippon Tech, but 1st Generation gospog seem to match the subtle nature of Kanawa well.

The new gospog creation process offers greatly enhanced story potential. If gamemasters wish to run an early invasion scenario, describing the landing of a maelstrom bridge, the first chaotic moments of an invasion, and the ruthless transformation teams stalking innocent victims through the crowd and applying seeds is a golden chance to start the wars off on the right foot. And the painful transformation that turns a normal person into a thing that attacks the player characters? That’s just a bonus.

The transformation process itself is painful and repulsive. The notion of an innocent victim, locked inside a horrific form and forced to do the High Lord’s bidding, ought give the player’s pause, especially when they are forced into firefights with gospog. Players and player characters alike should be horrified and seek to save as many as possible, then wreak bloody vengeance on the High Lords.

Cross-border raids from the invaders become real threats to innocents. If the players are in a border town, and a group of gospog hunters enter the town and begin transforming people, it’s an immediate opportunity both for roleplaying- time to put the hurt on NPC’s that the players have a Romance or Personal Stake in- and colorful descriptions. Having NPC’s fall victim to the process, but with the chance for rescue offers immediate plot hooks (and gives gamemasters a way to entice players into realms they might otherwise seek to avoid).

With quick, mobile transformation teams, High Lords can create gospog where they need them, and gamemasters have an excuse for gospog to be anywhere. It makes more sense for High Lords to rely on mobile transformation seeds, rather than immobile and inflexible gospog fields. Instead of having to plant and replant and replant the same field, increasing the risk that it will be discovered and burnt, the High Lords simply upgrade extant gospogs with enhanced seeds where ever necessary.

Nor do they have to worry about creating a “field of maximum size.” If they can only create 100 1st Generation gospogs right now, but they will be able to create more later, they will still be able to create the same amount of 5th Generation gospogs eventually. They do not lose out on anything by incrementally increasing the size of their forces wherever possible.

These factors enhance the utility and flexibility of gospog as troops (and their usefulness as villains or plot elements for gamemasters).

These gospog are more flexible, more versatile, more interesting, and offer far more plot hooks. They make more sense, and their origin and purpose are a better fit for Torg’s metaphysics

Updated: Aug. 30, 2006
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