Last week I covered a bit about the flexibility of Dread Hollows. This week, I want to talk a bit about another tool of the Dread — the Brute. Though they appear in the book (see Chapter 7), we didn’t include a stat block for them initially.

Design Thoughts – Dread Brutes

When the idea of the Dread sprang into being, I knew that as the Monarch tossed her minions into the universe, there would be a certain amount of redundancy. Lords and Queens are flung into the depths of space with a vague notion that “there’s life in that direction.” Most never connect, instead drifting forever in the cosmos. But a few manage to get captured by the gravitational pull of systems far and wide.

If a Lord hit a planet, it would bury itself deep and act as a homing beacon. It almost acts like a space probe sending back additional data about a potential target. Some would be devoid of life. Others would be teeming with it. And as the Lord smacked the surface, it would dig to get as close to the core as possible and transmit back to the Monarch any additional information about where it landed. If it was rich enough, the Monarch would send other resources to the cause, homing in on the Lord’s position to help dial in her fastballs into the universe.

But if a Queen hits a planet and there was enough life to mess with, she would need protection. That’s where the Brutes come in.

They’re the first two eggs the Queen lays on a new world or moon. It’s her first big expense of energy, leaving her vulnerable. The Brutes do their best to keep her safe, bring her food, and scout the surface a bit while she recovers. As such, they are even more vicious than the Soldiers to be born later, the Harvester, and the eventual Hollows.

Dread Brutes

Each Brute is easily double the size of a Soldier, but smarter and less apt to simply swarm a target with numbers.

  • Dread Brute (mid-level): Attribute 12, Traits: Legged (10m), Bite (d6), Claws (d6), Acid Blood (sprays acid blood when cut, d6+2 damage, 2 points ongoing each round until removed), Hivemind, Grab (immobilize victim temporarily, Athletics check to break free. Immobilized creatures grant Advantage on incoming attacks)

Depending on the age of the hive, these creatures will behave differently:

  • Early Days of the Hive – You will only see them one at a time. One will be protecting the Queen at all times and the rover will return at the first hint of any trouble.
  • After the Hive is Established – Eventually the Queen will lay two additional Brute eggs to expand her bodyguard retinue. One will continue to stay with the Queen at all times, but the other Brutes are then free to roam and expand hive territory alone, in pairs, or as the full trio. And usually they will be accompanied by a troupe of Soldiers to aid their goals.
  • Well Established Hives – The Queen will be protected at all times, but there may be as many as 10 or more Brutes in a variety of strengths and abilities.

The Hivemind links all creatures equally, so all will be able to call for reinforcements when needed.

Possible Enhancements

Just like Hollows, I think Brutes have a near infinite set of possibilities for additional capabilities, but I have used the following:

  • Tough Hide (AR2)
  • Tough Bastard (doubles HP to 24)
  • Sprinter (doubles speed to 20m)
  • Spit Acid (spit acid at a target – range 1-5m – d6+1 damage, ongoing 2 points until removed)

But it can always get worse. I’ve created Dread Brute Generals and Lieutenants for more advanced hives where Queens and Harvesters have worked to establish a solid foothold on a planet. Such Brutes gain experience levels just like the heroes trying to stop them.

  • Dread Brute General (high-level): Attribute 13, Traits: Legged (10m), Bite (d6), Claws + Ripper Claws (2d6), Acid Blood (sprays acid blood when cut, d6+2 damage, 2 points ongoing each round until removed), Hivemind, Grab (immobilize victim temporarily, Athletics check to break free. Immobilized creatures grant Advantage on incoming attacks), Sprinter (20m speed), Tough Hide (AR2), Plated Armor (AR3/AP15), Regenerating Armor AP1, Regenerating Health HP1, Tactics (can trade their action to give an ally an extra move or attack)
  • Dread Brute Lieutenant (high-level): Attribute 12, Traits: Legged (10m), Bite (d6), Claws + Ripper Claws (2d6), Acid Blood (sprays acid blood when cut, d6+2 damage, 2 points ongoing each round until removed), Hivemind, Grab (immobilize victim temporarily, Athletics check to break free. Immobilized creatures grant Advantage on incoming attacks), Sprinter (20m speed), Tough Hide (AR2), Regenerating Health HP1, Tactics (can trade their action to give an ally an extra move or attack)

I’ve even gone so far as to give them:

  • Enhanced Plate Armor (AR4/AP20)
  • Impenetrable Armor (AR5/AP25)

Though these beasties are usually found alone, in pairs with a group of Soldiers or Hollows at their command, I think they could be downright terrifying.

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