Saturday, February 4, 2012

Xing Tian

Xing Tian
(Masked Acephalic Abhumans)
No. Enc. 2d4 (6d4)
Alignment: Chaotic (40%), Neutral (50%), Lawful (10%)
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4+1
Attacks: 1 (fist, weapon or gaze)
Damage: 2d4 or weapon or 3d6
Save: F5
Morale: 8*

Hulking yet stocky brutes with their faces located in their torsos, the Xing Tian are heavily muscled and notorious for their ferocity in any battle where they outnumber their opponents significantly.

While they prefer to fight with their fists, the Xing Tian will use weapons, if they can pick them from the bodies of those slain in combat. It is against their beliefs to wield a weapon that has been given to them freely, or to pay for a weapon--they must take such things from those they have defeated in battle. Of course this tends to get reinterpreted by many Xing Tian to excuse looting the dead and many will claim weapons from the periphery of a battle that their unit may have been connected to on the most spurious of pretexts. But since so many of the Xing Tian have been conscripted into the huge armies of the five would-be Emperors, one must make allowances for this sort of slackening in their observance of the old traditions of their people.

Cynical Veterans of a Thousand Wars
Their time in the service of the warring nobles of a hundred or more lesser states and minor principalities has made the average Xing Tian something of a philosopher as well as a soldier. They have never feared death prior to the first campaign they were recruited to serve in, but since that time the Xing Tian have learned to respect death in ways that no one would have predicted previously. If someone is being troublesome and it is expedient to simply kill them in order to get on with things, the Xing Tian will kill them out of hand. Life is cheap to these battle-scarred abhumans. Non-Xing Tian officers are especially likely to have an extraordinarily high attrition rate. That said, it is also not uncommon for a Xing Tian to be placed in command of a group of Blemmyes, mostly because they are some of the only beings who can knock some sort of sense into them. One thing that endears Xing Tian commanders to the Blemmyes is their willingness to allow the savage Blemmyes to take the heads of enemy soldiers as trophies--a practice much reviled and repudiated by many of their allies, a source of great frustration for those generals wishing to use these sorts of troops, and friction among the ranks of armies that include these beings. This is another reason why most of these units are kept separate and are sometimes sent in as terror troops.

A Surfeit of Bone Masks
The Xing Tian still retain one tradition from their days as free-roaming barbarians along the Septagoorean Isles and densely wooded hills of the Malachite Pylons and that is the creation and continual wearing of their infamous Bone Masks. Originally, each Bone Mask was molded from the remains of a dozen enemies slain in combat by the Xing Tian as they came of-age. Nowadays the Bone Masks are inherited from their ancestors or taken from their fallen comrades. So many Xing Tian have fallen in combat that hundreds of Bone Masks have been recovered, repaired and stockpiled by their shamans and sorcerers so that no Xing Tian need ever make their own Bone Mask ever again. In fact, many of the Xing Tian have forgotten how to mold bone or cast even the simplest spells that were once commonplace among their people. Each year there are fewer shamans and sorcerers born to the Xing Tian.

Breaking or destroying the Bone Mask of a Xing Tian disgraces them utterly before all their kin past, present and future and most Xing Tian in such a situation will attempt to redeem themselves by going into a berserk rage and laying waste to anyone and everyone within reach, friend or foe alike, until they are killed in honorable combat. Those few who are somehow incapacitated or otherwise prevented from doing this will do everything in their considerable power to end their lives while engaged in honorable combat with anyone available. Should they have their Bone Mask restored, or replaced, that individual becomes the personal guardian and champion of whomever restored their honor for the rest of their days. There are few things as intensely loyal and unshakable in their convictions and sense of obligation as a Xing Tian that has had its honor preserved or restored in this fashion.

Redoubtable Duellists
Xing Tian have a pronounced predilection for fighting duels and engaging in ritual combats. Even when a Xing Tian may have gained an impressive enchanted battle axe, massive hammer, wicked glaive or another such weapon from their fallen enemies, they prefer to fight one-on-one with just their bare knuckles.

It is important that anyone seeking to hire-on Xing Tian mercenaries make sure that they stipulate in the contract that duels are not allowed, or that they can only be fought after first gaining express permission from the command-staff, otherwise if a Xing Tian champion should be out-witted or lose their duel, they will often-times sit-out the big fight or even switch allegiances to the side that bested them in fair combat.

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