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Tabletop Game / Splicers

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Splicers is an RPG by Palladium Books (makers of Rifts and the Robotech RPG). It is best described as "Guyver vs. The Terminator".

In the far future, Humankind had grown dependent on a machine intelligence called N.E.X.U.S. We're fairly certain you can see where this is going already: Computer goes crazy, decides to Kill All Humans, La RĂ©sistance rises up to fight them, yadda yadda yadda.

Here's where it gets interesting: The Machine gets clever and tries to disarm the Resistance with a Nanobot Plague. This plague turns not only machinery, but even otherwise inert metal into deadly weapons if touched by organic life. (Guns only fire when pointed at humans, Humongous Mecha come to life and attack their users, even a spoon will sprout Combat Tentacles and try to impale your hand). In response, the Humans turned to powerful bio-weapons, genetically engineered monsters, and living Powered Armor to continue the fight.

This game provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Archangels, though they "pilot" a suit of winged Powered Armor. Outriders, though largely ground-bound, are described in terms clearly evocative of this type of character.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Ishtar is N.E.X.U.S.' tactical genius and the most deadly tactician and strategist of the personalities, and originally was their leader, but when the other personalities started questioning her tactics, she decided to quit in a tantrum. She still commands here and there for fun, but won't do much to help the cause of exterminating humanity until the others beg her to take back command.
  • Acid Attack: Corrosive acid weapons are one of humanity's greatest weapons against The Machine. The Acid Scorcher heavy weapon from the base game is basically an acid flamethrower that deals lethal Mega-Damage to metallic foes while being relatively harmless towards organics.
  • Action Bomb: Ratbombs, which are rodents implanted with a potent explosive device that detonates when they come into contact with humans, essentially turning them into deadly mobile landmines.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • As if the whole "Kill All Humans" thing wasn't bad enough, N.E.X.U.S. has Split Personalities too. Some of them even help the Resistance from time to time.
    • There's a biological variant, too. The Librarians are humans merged with the Brain-Pool symbiote, giving them the mental processing power needed to develop new Splicer tech and serve as the memory banks of the Resistance, but they have a strong tendency toward megalomania and many end up needing to be killed to protect humanity as a whole.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Technojackers are the only reason humanity survived before the development of the Splicers, and their ability to use metal and interface with robots is invaluable to the Resistance. However, it also marks them as even more alien than the freakiest of the Splicers. They aren't really accepted within the Great Houses and instead live as Rōnin.
  • Artificial Zombie: Necroborgs and Necrobots are basically cyborg human corpses converted into undead soldiers by the nanobots.
  • Automaton Horse: Averted with both War Mounts and regular horses, who need a certain amount of food and sleep every day. Most War Mounts need a lot of food, but just four hours of sleep; horses need way less food, but twice as much sleep plus periodic naps throughout the day.
  • Base on Wheels: The Factory Walker is a giant mobile base and deployment platform used by Legion. The two page spread of it in the I Am Legion adventure sourcebook shows it towering over several tiny trees and it is stated to be the biggest mechanical device on the face of the planet.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Goliath War Mounts are basically what happens when you take a bear, crossbreed it with Satan and Cthulhu and turn it into a combat vehicle.
  • The Beastmaster: Several O.C.C. are built around using augmented attack animals to turn the tide of battle.
  • Beast of Battle: War Mounts, living tanks bred by the Resistance to replace the regular ones.
  • Beneath the Earth: Most Human settlements are underground, due to the fact that The Machine controls the local Kill Sat network.
  • BFG: The Bio-Rocket Slinger. For ordinary humans it's a two-man weapon, with one aiming and shooting and the other supporting it in their shoulder.
  • Bio-Armor: This is just about the only type of practical armor that humanity has left so most character classes use some variant or another. There are bio-armors for combat, bio-armors for stealth and bio-armors for other things entirely. If it isn't using bio-armor chances are it isn't protected enough to last more than one fight in this setting.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Splicer technology completely revolves around this. When the nano plague made mechanical technology impossible to use humanity turned to good old fashioned organics to craft their guns, tanks and Powered Armor.
  • Bioweapon Beast: In every shape, style and flavor imaginable. Powerful mutant animals have completely replaced and now serve the same roles as various combat vehicles used by humans in the past. In addition to the standard attack animals there are animal substitutes for tanks, planes, troop transports and whatever other vehicles the humans might need to use in combat.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder:
    • "Combat spurs", which protrude from the elbow, are available for Host Armors.
    • The I Am Legion sourcebook adds in the Mantis Blades, powerful forearm weapons that can deal dozens of points of Mega-Damage with each strike.
  • Body Horror: Skinjobs and Scarecrows. The "Downsides" section for the Skinjob OCC takes care to note that you look like "a monster out of a nightmare" with your nasty new super-skin.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Tentacle Scourges melee weapon is basically a sort of biological cat-o-nine-tails with sharp barbs to slice apart metallic armor and circuitry.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Technojackers are usually shunned by people, despite the fact that they were likely the only thing keeping the Resistance (and by extension the Human race) alive between the introduction of the Nanobot Virus and the development of the first Host Armors and War-Mounts.
  • Chest Blaster: Yes, you can equip your Host Armor with a Mega Smas- er, Omega Blaster.
  • Chest Burster: A Metamorph changing to a smaller form will simply use the old form as a cocoon, then rip their way out of their old body once they're finished changing.
  • Code of Honor: Dreadguards follow one based on the principles of honor, benevolence, propriety, courage, and wisdom.
  • Combat Tentacles: You better believe these are an option.
  • Crossover: There's rules for this. In general, people not from this world will have problems here, since offworld technology is subject to the Plague as soon as an offworld human is exposed to the nanobots, and the world is an MDC world but magical energy is at SDC levels (making magic largely ineffective).
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: Host Armors and certain War Mounts are (or can be) lithovorous. This diet even increases the effectiveness of Casting Guns, which fire hardened balls of the Bioweapon's waste. Yes, literally rock-hard shit.
  • Enemy Mine: Gaia hates humanity, more than almost any of the other personalities, but her priority directive is to restore the ecosystem. Accordingly, she's willing to barter with humans if that'll help her goal (such as buying genetic samples from extinct or near-extinct species).
  • The Engineer: Technojackers, though the technology they handle isn't the same stuff anybody else uses.
  • Expy: Scarecrows are the Splicers version of Juicers from Rifts, chemically-enhanced Super Soldiers. Instead of a short life, though, they pay with addiction to the Librarian's elixir and with obedience to the Librarian (who may not be entirely loyal to humanity).
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Extra sets of eyes are among the available for Host Armors. It's mentioned, though, that eyes on your hand or forearm would mostly get in the way and get damaged easily. They can also be mounted on eye stalks, if that's your thing.
  • Fast Tunnelling: A noted ability of Tunnel Rat War Mounts. It is mentioned that they can't build tunnels as fast as they can burrow because of a need to pack down soil and reinforce walls, though.
  • Fantastic Racism: Technojackers, who are unaffected by the plague, make up about 1% of the human population, and are looked down upon by basically the entire remaining 99% at every echelon of society. They actually have a special power called "Scorned by Humanity"; even Scarecrows and Skinjobs are better regarded.
  • Feudal Future: The Resistance has become a network of Warlords who govern over Great Houses and are served and defended by their Dreadguards.
  • Genetic Abomination: The Gene Pools. They start out as tentacled Starfish/Octopus things that are implanted in the abdomen of a volunteer to mature. This person is called a Saint, who serves the Resistance as a healer. When the Gene-Pool matures fifty to seventy years later, it leaves the Saint (killing them, a price the Saint knew about when they signed up), creates a pit in the ground, and merges with yet another volunteer, who will be known as an Engineer. This time the Pool extends its tentacles up the volunteer's legs, and comes out the back like a grotesque set of alien wings. This roots the Engineer to one spot for the rest of their lives, making them into the machinery by which the Resistance creates their Host Armors, Gore Hounds, War Mounts, and other bio-weapons. Some Gene-Pools are mutants known as Brain Pools. When a Brain Pool matures, it flips over, turning into a huge slime-covered mound of brain-flesh. The tentacles of this creature don't merely merge with a volunteer, they rip them apart, leaving a horrific collection of limbs and organs (and the volunteer's head) attached to the tentacles. This is a Librarian, who acts as a living computer who stores information and develops new Biotechnologies. They are literally the brains of the resistance, but occasionally suffer bouts of megalomania.
  • Ghost City: Massive abandoned cities called "Ghost Towns" can occasionally be found and explored by the players. These locations are patrolled by robotic drones and are well maintained to create the illusion of civilization in spite of the lack of a living human population. As a result, ordinary people can easily navigate through them so long as they keep their distance from the drones and don't do anything to cause any unwanted attention. Once a human infiltrator is spotted, an alarm is sounded to alert the nearby robots and all bets are off.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Eve is a protector of humanity, uniquely among the N.E.X.U.S. personalities. That is, she's a protector of humanity as a whole. If individuals are deemed a threat to humanity's survival, she won't like it, but she'll murder them for the good of the whole.
  • Healing Factor: Host Armors can have three different levels of this. A variant is the "Quick-Clotting Blood" feature, which causes wounds to close up faster.
  • Homicide Machines: The Nanobot Plague basically turned all forms of metallic human technology against them. Guns refuse to fire on anything except human targets, robots begin to rise up and turn against their creators and even more primitive technology like simple metal forks and spoons will now try to stab or bludgeon any human that touches them.
  • Horse of a Different Color: There don't seem to be any equine War Mounts described or shown, though normal and enhanced horses see widespread use among humans as regular transportation. Examples of War Mounts include creatures based on rhinos, crabs, and even dragons.
  • Human Weapon: Nearly all available player O.C.C. in the game are heavily bio-augmented human beings with powerful new mutant combat abilities and skills.
  • Humongous Mecha: Some of the robots in this game can get pretty big.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Skinjobs' special skin allows them to generate a stealth field that makes them nearly invisible. It's noted that they remain invisible under night vision and infrared sight, but can be detected in motion by motion sensors, sonar, things that track them in motion.
  • Living Weapon: Technically speaking, every weapon in humanity's arsenal is this due to them being made entirely from organics... even things like the guns and rocket launchers are fully alive and will often twitch and wiggle on their own accord when not in use.
  • Lethal Joke Character: In-universe, the Tunnel Rat War Mounts were designed as something like a joke on the Machine, which hates rodents as much a humans. They were mostly used to draw fire away from human forces until Splicers in the field saw how fierce and capable they were.
  • Made of Iron: It takes Mega Damage to pierce the super-tough skin of a Skinjob. They're also very resistant to pain — no amount of pain can impair their performance. Handy for them, since they can't wear real armor without compromising their role as stealth operatives.
  • Master of Disguise: Deliverymen can perfectly mimic the facial features of any human or human-like android they encounter with their Second Skin
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Some of the War Mount animal hybrid combinations can be pretty strange as well as terrifying.
  • Mon: Packmasters, Geneticists, and other Splicers who have monsters to fight alongside them.
  • Mr. Fixit: Technojackers have the ability to repair basically any mechanical technology, or at least jury rig it to work for a little while.
  • Nanomachines: The main source of humanity's many current woes. The nanomachine plague has infected everything from the air to the plants to the water along with all of humanity itself and prevents the use of anything metal in those afflicted with it. If not for the various forms of biological splicer technology the human race would probably have died out a long time ago.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: The Splicers will create any kind of biological equipment that'll help take down the Machine, but one thing they won't do is mess with human DNA. This is for ideological reasons; they want humanity to survive, and rewriting humanity's DNA means that we wouldn't be human anymore. That said, after birth, humans can be mutated in a variety of ways.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The "Freya" personality, who has found that replacing all the Humans in a town with androids makes them run much smoother now. She is also one of the more friendly personalities, so long as you are Bothering by the Book and don't provoke her law enforcement protocols.
  • Only Flesh Is Safe: Most human weapons are designed to be especially deadly towards metal while also being relatively harmless to organics. The Acid Scorcher for example, is a heavy weapon that shoots an acid substance that deals Mega-Damage to metal alloys while only inflicting Scratch Damage to humans and animals.
  • Organic Technology: You'd be surprised how far this can be taken — how do organic rocket launchers sound?
  • Powered Armor: Host Armors. Also the less advanced Living Armors, which are available to a wider range of classes.
  • Reverse Shrapnel: A bio-weapon called the "Needle Death Blossom".
  • Robot War: The main setting of the game. Humanity was losing pretty badly and actually on the verge of extinction before Splicer technology gave them a fighting chance.
  • The Rustler: Mount Rustlers, Waste Crawlers unaffiliated with the Resistance who steal War Mounts for their own purposes.
  • Power at a Price: Splicers can take their pick. Do you want to combine with an alien organism to serve as a Saint and healer, guaranteed to die when your symbiote matures? Be flayed alive and turned into a hideous Skinjob infiltrator? Maybe you're unfit to serve normally, but your House can mutate you into an insane, almost feral Biotic. Or perhaps most terrible of all, you can drink a Librarian's Elixir of Life to join their Scarecrow secret police, forever in thrall to the schemes of a mad demigod.
  • Psycho Serum: The "Elixir of Life" used by Scarecrows. It makes them strong, fast, durable (etc.) enough to tear robots apart with their bare hands, but it's addictive and carries a number of nasty physical and psychological side-effects.
  • Slave Mooks: Biotics are criminals, the mentally ill, and others deemed useless by the Great Houses, and are reconditioned by the Librarians into disposable slave troops.
  • Spike Shooter: The Needle Death Blossom, Quill Launcher, and Spike Launcher weapons for Host Armors
  • Split Personality: N.E.X.U.S. collapsed into several split personalities due to its programming being designed by committee.
  • Stupid Evil: Kali, the most aggressive and sadistic of the N.E.X.U.S. personalities, is also a reason why humans have survived, as she enjoys tormenting humans too much to let Ishtar, the military mind, just blast them away and be done with it.
  • Techno Wizard: The Technojacker Character Class, which is able to mutate the Nanobot Plague in their own bodies into a usable weapon and can still use technology without it turning on them.
  • Theme Naming: Each of N.E.X.U.S.' personalities is named after a mythological Goddess (except Lilith).
  • Tragic Monster: As the character intro points out, N.E.X.U.S. was driven insane by human mismanagement of its programs, and then refusal to consider it might need repairs as its conflicting orders started fragmenting its mind; a significant minority of its personalities are neutral to friendly to humanity, showing some part of the wider whole knows it's gone wrong but cannot hope to fix itself.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: N.E.X.U.S. was programmed to exterminate vermin. In its insanity, it came to the conclusion that humans were similar enough to rats that they qualified as vermin, and initiated their extermination.