Type: Exalted Extraplanar
Habitat: Urban (Very Rare); Underground (Very Rare)
Wandering Group: 1 (B)
Lair Group: 1 (B x 2)
Armor Class: -10
Hit Dice: 20 *************
Attack Bonus: +14
Attacks: Special see below
Power Reserve: 100
vs Spell Attacks 14
vs Physical Attacks 15
vs Mental Attacks 10
vs Power Attacks 19
XP Value: 18,000
SHAPESHIFTING: Forerunners can once per combat round at their initiative count assume the complete physical form of any other being with the exception of the chosen form of an Immortal. This physical form is identical to a “real” member of the species or construct chosen with the exception that all mental powers, saves and intelligence are those of the Forerunner. Also if the form could not normally use magic, the Forerunner still can if it knows any spells.
DISINTEGRATION: Once per combat round as their standard attack and in addition to any Shapeshifting, a Forerunner may launch an energy blast, ray or cone equivalent of a breath weapon (affecting 1d6 characters at once). This energy attack instantly destroys any target that fails its save vs Dragon Breath or save vs Power Attacks.
Forerunners are similar in nature to ball lightning, but have powers that can destroy even lesser gods.
Forerunners are a race of incalculably powerful entities. Despite this, their nature or personality is not entirely different from that of normal characters. Many theories have arisen to explain this empathy or compatibility; most turn on some theory of common origin or a Genesis Event.
As insanely, almost indescribably, powerful as the Forerunners are, by being finite at all and able to be reduced to statistics however vague places the Forerunners firmly within the realm of all that exists, and not in the realm of the true Everywhere Spirit or One Above All, the “god of the gods” referred to in the most mysterious (or obvious?) of ancient texts. Mortals venerate or worship many things, Immortals and interdimensional beings included. This does not make what is worshipped truly divine, or even superior to that which offers worship. No number, no matter how immense, even approaches infinity.
In its natural form, “how they really are”, a Forerunner is a ball of light, covering approximately 10’ in diameter. The light is neither dim nor too bright to look at; it varies in color with the mood and intent of the Forerunner. When a Forerunner generates sound in its natural form, whether the crackle of energy or human speech, the ball of light pulses perceptibly and varies slightly in size.
A Forerunner is incredibly powerful, yet lacks a power that even lesser Immortals might have – Telepathy. They are so alien that they can’t read the minds of ANY other species. Even though they can create items with telepathy, just as humans can create X-Ray machines, we cannot directly see X-Rays, only create pictures. So too with Forerunners and telepathy. Direct ESP is forever closed off to Forerunners.
Forerunners have never lost their appetite for coldly and disinterestedly examining the existences of other characters. When someone, who is considered by Forerunners to be lesser than they, uses Telepathy power successfully on a Forerunner, if that is ever possible, all they will discover is alien images beyond understanding and a sense of cold detachment and gentle patronising amusement. Even though they are truly and unintentionally dismissive of ‘lesser’ life-forms, they still compulsively study them. Perhaps it gives them “something to do”. Or perhaps they deceive themselves about their level of disinterest?
Forerunners usually undertake studies in one or both of two ways: direct involvement or artefact dropping.
Direct Involvement (DI) means exactly what it says. A Forerunner uses its shapeshifting to disguise itself as a member of the local race or community. As such it goes about its business exactly like a normal local. This effectively means that the Forerunner has adopted a strict code of “Behave Exactly Like A Local, Including Pretending To Be Injured Or Killed If Necessary” and created for itself an alter-ego. This alter-ego should be generated identically to how any normal character is generated. Just remember that EVERYTHING about this alter-ego is 100% FAKE. Even if it seems Undead or a Construct, it’s all simulated using Immortal power and acting. In fact it is the extreme forms of character that are most likely to detect or guess that a Forerunner walks amongst them, since they know their own nature so well that no matter how skilled a Forerunner actor may be, it will not pass muster. A clique of Vampires all being exquisite and sucking people’s blood will tell that the Forerunner fake’s heart is just not in it, or that although it casts no reflection for a second there is the hint of something else there. People may also leap to the WRONG conclusion, suspecting that it is not a Forerunner but some kind of horrific monster amongst them or even an actual Immortal…
Artefact Dropping (AD) is the practice a Forerunner or group of Forerunners undertake when they create a powerful item and literally drop it out of the sky, let it wash up on a beach or give it to a mortal knowing it will begin a long history. This item is almost always a One-of-a-Kind Weapon, Item or similar unique thing which quickly passes into myth and legend. Even Immortals and Extraplanars don’t always realise the sheer lack of care that Forerunners exhibit when they do this. There is no higher purpose served, no Cosmic Balance established, no sense of justice fulfilled. Forerunners do it so they can see what happens. That’s it. If the Artefact is purer in form than a ‘mere’ Weapon, Item (or Vehicle or Steed, etc.) it almost always takes one of three forms: Ball, Child, or Puzzle.
A Forerunner Ball is a 30’ diameter sphere, resembling a giant golfball with a highly reflective metallic surface that almost seems liquid. The Ball has Flight at a standard Move of 10,000’, ESP 1 mile radius permanently on, and the innate ability to cast the spell Wish as if a 36th level Magic-User with a Wisdom of 25. It can cast up to seven Wishes PER DAY.
The weakness of the Ball is that the Wishes it grants include every subconscious urge, suspicion and fear of those within 1000’ of it, at all times, beginning with the most focused minds and ending with even the primitive reproductive and predatory urges of all minds down to any creature with an Intelligence of at least 2. The power of a Ball to fly activates once, to bring it in range of people who can use it, or if it is lost in the sea or drifting in another dimension to bring it in range to be found; and once more to depart when its ‘work’ is done and the whole area is in chaos and uproar, which usually doesn’t take too long. Its second and final flight use sends it hurtling first across the sky, then out of the local Crystal Sphere, into the broader universe and then finally across The Fence (the bizarre borderland created around the Forerunners’ home outer plane and directly via a zoomway (Gate) into the world of the Forerunners. If a being can somehow stay holding on to the Ball’s almost infinitely frictionless surface, and somehow survive the trans-universal flight and the crushing tidal forces of the zoomway he or she will find themselves in the Forerunner World.
Let us pause to ask, WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO? Well, supervillains being greedy thugs or delusional emperors might well think the Forerunners were a worthy target for theft or alliance. Perhaps the truly delusional imagine the Forerunner realm to be one of infinite treasures and pleasures. Megalomaniacs might dream of alliance with the gods. As for heroes, well there might be a problem too big for any normal extraplanar or Immortal to assist them with. Or they might naively think Forerunners are “good” in their intentions. Finally, an outraged sense of right and wrong might prompt superheroes to call on the Forerunners to tell them off – or even try and bring them back to face local legal proceedings!
A Forerunner Child is exactly what it sounds like. A Forerunner comes to the realm of lesser beings, be it Mount Olympus or the mortal world, and impregnates a (Human) woman. This impregnation is either a baffling, almost inexplicable thing, carried out via a beam of light or a similar mating to when Immortals or demons polymorph temporarily to impregnate a character.
The result of the impregnation by a Forerunner is exactly like any other hybrid. It’s just that the Forerunner Child randomises its statistics using those of a Forerunner for its father. Potentially, that could make for a fairly impressive character. Even if by some mischance the Child inherits NONE of its Forerunner father’s Traits, it still inherits the nature of a Forerunner. Upon the character’s death, a Forerunner Child undergoes a Physical Metamorphosis. 50% of Forerunner Children shift permanently to a Forerunner form, although one that still has their same characteristics. The other half of resurrected and changed Forerunner Children return from the dead, but are simply as they were before death.
In either event, only after death will the parent Forerunner express any interest whatsoever in its child. And even then the interest might be cold and clinical rather than expressing and detached but genuine affection.
A Forerunner Puzzle is devastating. This callous and one might suggest evil item is in the form of a physical puzzle easily able to be handled and interacted with. Almost all Forerunner Puzzles are no larger than a large apple if intended for human use. Another common form of Puzzle is a Book of Magic.
The Puzzle is created and programmed by Forerunners so as to automatically function as a Gate, with a diameter of 1d10 x 10’, between two or more entirely different and hostile dimensions. Sometimes, the Gate connects to what seems to be another time in the history of the same mortal world, but which is a twisted parallel with something deeply, permanently and incurably amiss – a world at the mercy of Undead for example, or a world without Magic.
When the Puzzle is interacted with it becomes immediately obvious that it is able to be used or ‘solved’ in some way. Clever players might realise this is not necessarily a good idea. Others may not care.
Solving the Puzzle is not very difficult for normal characters; in fact it requires merely a successful check against the character’s Intelligence. However, solving this Puzzle, whether moving sliding pieces around or reading a book, results in the immediate and permanent creation of the Gate. One end of the Gate is centered on the puzzle itself, meaning whoever solved the Puzzle and whatever else is in range is now transferred, with the Puzzle, to the other end of the Gate and whatever world awaits. This means the Gate is mobile, moving wherever the Puzzles moves.
IN THE FORERUNNER DIMENSION
A non-Forerunner in the Forerunner World sees precisely and only what the Forerunners wish them to see. At its simplest and if somehow the Forerunners are caught napping by the non-Forerunner’s arrival, the realm will resemble a blank white floor, a featureless landscape covered in swirling gray-white smoke (Ether) and off in the distance a single pillar of apparently infinite height. As soon as the Forerunners are aware of the presence of an interloper, the world will change to resemble something equivalent to the home realm of the visitor. It will still at its outer edges however turn back into flat white ground and greyish smoke. If the particular Forerunners encountered can’t be bothered, then the local area converted will be more or less like an unconvincing stage, any buildings mere painted backdrops or nailed up wooden fronts and flat rather than full buildings. Sometimes the smoky local dimension is left as is, with a complete functional building such as a castle or casino nearby, to encourage the visitor to isolate themselves away from the general Forerunner population.
Forerunners who have spent a life-time with a ‘lesser’ race (and lesser to them even includes pantheons of Gods) sometimes experience Mortal Thoughts. This means that they ‘go native’. They don’t surrender their powers, but they do begin to act in the interests of their local group or race. They identify too strongly with these petty concerns and become ‘Un-Forerunner-like’, or as Forerunners describe it, “sick”. The first sign of this sickness is that the gone native Forerunner sticks to a differentiated sex and appearance rather than its natural form.
Forerunners are irritated by “Sick” Forerunners. It spoils their own observations by interfering with their uncontaminated specimens. In rare cases if a “Sick” Forerunner begins exhibiting its full powers around lesser beings and generally drawing attention to the Forerunner race, this behaviour risks making lesser beings aware of what Forerunners do and how they do it. If this happens a Council of Forerunners convenes in their unimaginable home dimension. Sufficient Forerunners are sent to ‘have a talk’ with the offending member of their race so that in the event the rebel will not return to normal behaviour the group can overpower the individual and take it home. If the offending Forerunner can somehow survive and triumph, official Forerunner policy is to strip the gone native entity of its Forerunnerhood. This means that although it is still a ball of light, the ball of light true form is now only assumed at the point of death and its “fake” form it has chosen is now its ‘real’ form, permanently. Further, the Power Points of the changed Forerunner can now only be used to generate the equivalent of mortal spells.
Gone native Forerunners could be amongst the Greek Gods or early 1960s London on Earth, either way they are forever consigned to that reality to the same extent a local would be. It doesn’t mean they are somehow trapped in a mundane world, they can still adventure, Travel, use Gates or embrace whatever else is going on, but they are forever shut off from their own people. To a rebel Forerunner this initially seems fantastic, but as the centuries wear on it can pall terribly.
Released pursuant to the OGL 1.0a
I wanted something that was Immortal level for ultimate level play but which could still intrude on mortal levels of play. Similar to the Lee-Kirby Thor comics from the 1960s, the Q on Star Trek, Bewitched TV show, all those 1980s fantasy novels and many strange allegedly real life encounters people have. And of course films like Hellraiser and Sphere.
The Forerunners are tricksters who seem to take no pleasure in their tricks, more like remote godlike alien scientists performing Skinner Maze cruel experiments on lesser beings. Interestingly the recent Guardians of the Galaxy sequel shows a possible Forerunner (or maybe just actual Immortal) and the harm they do to lesser beings.
With the Forerunners loose, it is never going to be possible to assume you're dealing with demons or Immortals. They're up there, but they aren't like either of the other two. Plus, they provide pretexts for some of those arbitrary but sometimes enjoyable literal deus ex machina adventures.
Old School Revival at its best?
Moderator: Blacky the Blackball
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