[Hot War] Soviet Mobile Biological Weapons - what do you think they are?

edited December 2010 in Story Games
Soviet Mobile Biological Weapons are ubiquitous in Hot War, referred to probably more than any other twisted tech creature in the book while being the least described, left intentionally mysterious. All we know about them is they come in large numbers - 7000 trapped and killed in the Isle of Dogs for example.

I'd like to use them in my next game, but the possibilities are wide and I can't settle on a suitably disturbing description for them.
  • Are they large behemoths, human sized or rodent like?
    Mechanical or flesh?
    Sentient or mindless?
    Do they charge forward recklessly or seek to hide and infect the area subtlely over a long period?
    Oozing slug like creatures or scurrying critters?
    Living dead, transmitting their curse with their bite?
    A euphenism for infected refugees, sent fleeing toward their own people by the Soviets only to be gunned down in droves by the Army?
There's a huge range of possibilities. What do you think is the most disturbing one?

Comments

  • I thought they were Zombskis but I guess they could be roving packs of seemingly cute artic foxes with rabies.
  • edited December 2010
    Something's been growing inside the russian troopers. You can see it ripple underneath their pale skin and behind that 1000 yard stare. Some say they were never russian troopers in the first place. It's them wearing human-suits you see, all camouflage like. Stories' been doing the rounds of these "troopers" *cracking* open, like these damn russian dolls you know ? Makes you wonder how many layers of skin and bones are hiding under those uniforms....
  • It's a guy in a furry hat with a half of a moldy potato.
  • edited December 2010

    In 1950, a Danish prisoner named Anton was discovered by the international Reserve Police Agency in a Nazi laboratory deep under Berlin. When the city had fallen at the end of WWII, the facility's emergency protocols had been enacted, and fifty scientists and engineers were sealed for five years with their single subject.

    When the RPA agents discovered the facility, the only survivor was Anton. Two dozen of him. It turned out, whoever Anton had sex with, absorbed his DNA completely. Even more shocking was that every Anton had identical memories, scars, and shell-shock.

    The Soviet RPA agent on the mission, Dmitri Zarkov, in cooperation with his American counterpart Bill Kealoha, smuggled Anton to the East, where Anton, Dmitri, and Bill vanished for a decade.

    Anton is now the entire population of several areas of Britain. His experience trapped under Berlin — he'd first been imprisoned in 1943 after being captured trying to sabotage a German fuel depot — has made him deeply claustrophobic. He has no faith whatever in humanity and inflicts on it what it inflicted on him for seven years.

    Anton is a handsome man in his 40s with blond hair and lean, muscled look. He walks with a limp and the last two fingers on his right hand don't close. On the surface, he's charming and gregarious. It's a surface only evident as long as he needs it. Never actually kind — he voted for the Nazi party in his first Parliamentary election in 1939 — he enacts with grim resolve his will to turn the entire world into himself in the hopes that it will die with him in a few decades' time.

    If Anton can be talked with, and can be counted on not to lie, he might know things about the outside world if he is also there. That's a lot of ifs.

    Anton

  • The SMBW were designed towards the end of WW2, when review of the battles made it clear that the only advantage the Soviet Union had over the Third Reich was that were simply more Soviet soldiers than German bullets.

    Seeing that dead soldiers were their greatest asset, Soviet engineers set to turn this asset into a real advantage. The SMBW units look like large and burly garbage truck. The operators toss dead bodies inside, and this, well, things come out of the other end. The Soviet soldiers call them grusninki, ghastly little creatures. They are smallish (~1 meter high) agglomerates of human organs, highly mobile and semi-sentient. They are usually set to storm the enemy as cannon fodder. When enough of them are present, they can cause a stampede. The grusninki are directed by certain radio signals transmitted by the operators.

    In the battlefield, the presence of an MBW unit means that a unit of dead soldiers can be used completely neutralize an enemy squad or charge at a strategic location. Sometimes, no dead soldiers are available. Sometimes, they are created on the spot, prior to the beginning of the battle. When supplies are short, the soldiers aren't even given the courtesy of bullet to the chest prior being dumped inside the MBW.

    In a civilian setting, the MBW units are notoriously easy to camouflage, and civilians, being civilians, are notoriously easy to kill. This means that unless the controlling units are all destroyed, an army of grusninki will grow to massive proportions.

    So yeah, I guess this puts them in the Zombskis category.
  • Oh God. There were these writhing twisted things.
    Pale glistening flesh.
    Some reminded me of big maggots, but not quite. Some had arms, and legs, and mouths -hounded of mouths.
    And the sound, like flesh ripping apart, like children trapped and screaming in pain.
    And the lights, bright, floating, always searching.

    We fled, and radioed in the coordinates to the artillery, made them shell the whole area.
    May god have mercy on our souls.
  • My understanding from reading the text is that they're basically zombies with good PR. A minor theme would be the idea that the Soviets don't really have the esoteric knowhow and patience to get up to anything fancy here. Sort of a pathetic gloss on stolen German technology, they take what was considered failures and primitive basic chassis, gave the monstrous project a new suitably Communist name and started mass-production. Were I the GM, I'd probably go with a theme of let down expectations and banality of evil here; instead of dazzling the players with horrorful, unique images I'd have the SMBW simply be your basic Romero zombies controlled by means of electric whips or such. Laughably crude and not even that effective militarily in any normal conditions, but still deployed by the proud bureaucrats keen to prove their cachet in the system.
  • Some really, really cool ideas here - I think Anton may be the win, but I'm not sure if he'll have the effect I'm looking for - he may be too urbanely surreal. The idea of the army firing mortar after mortar at 7,000 Antons trapped on the Isle of Dogs is certainly bizarre.

    I'm pretty partial to the maggoty child-screaming version and the Russians with something cracking out from within, and the grusninki are wonderful. I can see the trouble if the PCs find a MBW unit abandoned and unwittingly switch it on...

    Really cool ideas. Part of the game will take place in the Zone of Alienation in northern Essex, so I'll be rolling them out in earnest.

    It's funny, but for some reason it never occurred to me that the 'biological' part of the title referred to the type of creature as opposed to germ warfare. Weird.
  • Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanA Danish prisoner named Anton...

    [snip]

    Anton
    This will find its way into one of my Don't Rest Your Head games in the future. Albeit, likely with a different backstory. But definitely Anton.
  • The idea of the army firing mortar after mortar at 7,000 Antons trapped on the Isle of Dogs is certainly bizarre.

    Mortars? Geez. I'd expect flamethrowers or something. You have to make sure the job's done. In person.

    This will find its way into one of my Don't Rest Your Head games in the future. Albeit, likely with a different backstory. But definitely Anton.

    If you're going to change his backstory, these are the parts of Anton:

    • He's privileged. He's beautiful and/or wealthy, so he thinks the world owes him.
    • He's a solipsist at heart. He doesn't think anyone else's perspective matters. He's got all the proof he needs that the world is awful.
    • His rage is actually righteous. You can sympathize with it. What was done to him would have been cruel if it hadn't been done with industrial remove and professional, scientific distance.
    • In another time and place, he'd just be a cad at a cocktail party who goes home with the girl you were chatting with.

    That is, just exactly the kind of person you don't want to fill the world with, and just the kind of person who wants to fill the world with himself.

  • The Sov Bio-Weapons are real and ghastly, but the whole thing about the incident at The Isle of Dogs is a total lie.

    Prior to the start of hostilities, the British government began systematically interning political unreliables in the area. As panic began to set in and the first incidents of Soviet weapons hitting British shores by way of insertion flights ( and other means) became known, alll sorts of rumors of monstrous "Fifth Columnist" activity made the rounds.

    At the same time, the political unreliables interned in the industrial and public housing buildings of the Isle of Dogs began agitating for better conditions and making other demands. Some began demonstrating openly, getting into street fights with the ad-hoc army and police units cobbled together to guard them and keep them contained.

    The end result was an atrocity. Rumors persist that in fact, some sort of Sov Weapons actually were deployed into that neighborhood. Perhaps there were actually some sort of upgraded Fifth Columnists actually captured in the round ups of communists and union organizers.

    All that is really known in the end is that some sort of riot occured and began spreading. Police and Army personnel panicked and wiped out the entire area.
  • Posted By: komradebobThe Sov Bio-Weapons are real and ghastly, but the whole thing about the incident at The Isle of Dogs is a total lie..
    You know, that sounds a whole lot more likely than the advertised 'victory'. Would make a pretty awesome discovery in a game - a SSG team looking for abandoned Soviet tech in the Isle of Dogs, finding none, and constantly getting redirected and sent on wild goose chases by officials trying to keep the atrocity covered up.
  • Yep. I like that a lot.

  • edited December 2010
    I like the idea of a debilitating sexually-transmitted neurological disease that gradually destroys brain function. And the Mobile Biological Weapons are infected prostitutes (male and female both), who get sent over the border in advance of an invasion.
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