Fan Broken: Keeper - (Wormkeeper, The Master, The Parasite, or The Host)

For those wanting to inject a little ‘Resident Evil 4’ into their Band of Blades campaigns, below’s a full writeup for a homebrew parasitic Broken “Keeper” - using the same format found in the BoB rules.

This Broken absolutely wears its inspirations on its sleeves, and I’m not shy to say that it’s the feel of those fleshy, alien, parasitic undead in the Resident Evil series that I was initially trying to capture here. Rest assured though that he’s not just a copy-paste, and that a lot of work has gone into making Keeper fit into the setting and amongst the other Broken in a way which I hope gives him a unique identity.

I hope he gives anybody interested as much fun as he has given our home game!

SOME THANKS
I want to shout-out to the other Fan Broken in this forum for giving me the confidence to write up my own Broken when I felt inspired to do so. In fact Zen’s parasitic Broken ‘Binder’ was the “almost perfect, but not quite what I’m looking for” idea that got me writing in the first place - so a big thanks to them in particular!

WORMKEEPER

Before he was Broken, Keeper was called Silver Shining Moon, named for the dark, reflective shell that was his Panyar mark, and for his love of taking long night-time walks in his home’s deadly forests. On being Chosen by the moon goddess Nyx, his appointed task was to hunt and kill the Cinder King, just as so many nocturnal beasts had tried to hunt and kill him over the years. When the Cinder King Broke him, Silver Shining Moon’s shell shattered, as did the moon overhead.

Keeper’s exposed flesh is bright, pale, and raw-looking. The constant pain makes him barely capable of movement, his emaciated body fit only to birth the parasites that now spread his will. These tiny pale worms, no thicker than string, survive by infesting a living creature’s body, which they slowly take over and puppet from within. From inside their host, they feast, grow, and spawn more worms with which to aggressively infect other creatures, dying only when their undead shell expires. As father of this brood, his full title is Wormkeeper, also called The Master, The Parasite, or The Host. The troops simply refer to him as Keeper.

HORROR THEMES: Hive minds. Parasitic infection. Body invasion and mutation. Worms and teeth and writhing flesh. An inhuman and unknowable enemy. The creeping spread of undeath. Being used and discarded like livestock. Being eaten alive.

Keeper ate a Bartan rookie today. Our squad was on cleanup, and she took the head off a sluggish undead that got too close to camp. She didn’t notice that the body was still walking, didn’t see the writhing mass that rose up from inside its empty neck, and hopefully didn’t feel it as it took her head in a single bite. I can’t stop checking my clothes, those worms were everywhere by the time the thing finally died.
— Dame Mikila Savrelli, Orite Legionnaire

BROKEN ABILITIES

INHABIT AND DIGEST (Starting Ability)
Longer-lived parasites grow smarter and more dangerous. Limbed can appear in any mission.

CONSUME AND GROW
This weaker breed of parasite twists its host for power, speed and lethality. Formed can appear in any mission.

  • What physical enhancements does Keeper favour, and does he prefer to twist human or animal forms?

DIVIDE AND CONSIDER
A special kind of parasite is birthed, capable of independent movement and greater control of its host. Crawlers can appear in any mission.

  • Where does Keeper send his Crawler agents? How are they different from each other?

REGENERATIVE STRAIN
The parasites increase their ability to regenerate their flesh shells, protecting their hosts for that much longer. All Keeper troops heal quickly from any damage short of lethal harm.

  • Regenerating undead may remove ticks in their harm clock, or get back up after seemingly traumatic damage. These can be introduced as a consequence for any failed roll or if enough time passes. Parasite hosts who are thoroughly destroyed cannot regenerate.

EYES EVERYWHERE
Keeper infests smaller, faster animals, such as crows, to spread his eyes and ears rapidly across the land. Recon mission engagement rolls take -1d.

  • This penalty is applied at the same time as all other penalties for the
    engagement roll

WRITHING TIDES
Infected, burrowing animals burst with worm parasites while still underground, flooding the earth and roiling up from beneath when a vulnerable target is detected.

  • The GM may introduce these parasites as obstacles on any Keeper mission, or have them emerge as consequences for failed rolls. These parasites are not directly harmful, but cause corruption on contact, especially if that target has unprotected physical wounds. Treat them as if they were threat 1.

EXPOSURE
A new mutation strengthens the parasite, even a single worm in the bloodstream can be enough to turn someone. Keeper’s parasites inflict +2 corruption to targets who are already physically wounded.

  • The GM should call this out when corruption is applied, so it’s clear
    that the increase has been taken into account. As a rule of thumb,
    creatures do about as much corruption as their threat.

EXTINCTION
The ecosystem falls apart as Keeper attempts to infect every creature he can find, forests and hills fall silent as the animal kingdom slowly devours itself. Acquire asset rolls for horses and food stores take -1d.

  • Not all animals are infected, but many are. It can be difficult to tell until a creature is examined, or butchered, if a parasite is present.
    (Thanks to Zen for this one, it’s very similar to their own Broken move)

UNDEAD ARMIES

LINE TROOPS

Keeper’s troops are normally large packs of Cattle (12 to 18), or a handful of Trained (3 to 5), with at least one Limbed or Crawler hiding amongst them. Only stronger parasites can act with Keeper’s full intelligence, and without such supervision Cattle are stupid and Trained are cannibalistic. Line troops are considered threat 1 opponents.

  • CATTLE: Human corpses, each playing host to a Keeper parasite which puppets it as a mobile shell. Cattle possess great strength and are much tougher to kill than ordinary humans, but are slow, clumsy, and the parasite within is vulnerable to fire. Because the worms keep their host bodies relatively whole, at least from the outside, Cattle can pass for dull humans at a distance.
  • TRAINED: Rarely, Keeper will attack and infect wild animals. These are much harder for him to control and tend to decay quickly, but those that last retain much of their natural speed and cunning. The strongest animals make for powerful hosts, but can only be controlled individually or in smaller groups, effectively trading higher threat for lower scale (and vice-versa for weaker animals).

ARMY TACTICS: Keeper’s troops can seem slow and under-equipped at first glance, an assumption Keeper likes to exploit, cornering prey by using his hosts’ unexpected strengths and the careful, coordinated intent that only a hive mind can achieve. Keeper himself is weak, but is protected by his strongest parasites who fight as threat 5 opponents.

ELITES

  • LIMBED: Mature parasites, as well as gaining Keeper’s intelligence, also construct limbed weaponry out of its host’s bones, flesh and organs. When their shell is then struck with a large enough wound, a decapitation for example, the parasite emerges to surprise and attack the threat directly with a scythe-like blade of bone, a strong sinewy tentacle, or a large tooth-filled maw.
  • FORMED: This special breed of parasite merges with and reshapes its host body over time. This results in shells built for greater strength, speed or scale, or endowed with strange and dangerous mutations. Formed are strong, but since the parasite within never fully matures they do not birth new worms and do not possess Keeper’s intelligence, being vicious without supervision.
  • CRAWLER: With sharp, spider-like legs and an engorged cranial cavity, Crawlers are able to puppet their hosts as though they were fully alive, even retaining access to their memories and personalities with which to deceive the living. Uniquely, Crawlers can even survive and act outside of their shell, though this does leave them vulnerable until they return to it or claim a new one.

INFAMOUS

  • SCUTTLER (Infamous Limbed): A cannibalistic Limbed who grew fat and mutated from devouring its kin. Like a Crawler, it is fully capable of surviving outside of a host, and it’s many-limbed weapons are formed from the bones of many past shells.
  • NEMESIS (Infamous Formed): Once Keeper’s brother, and the very first to be infected. This parasite gifted its lumbering host with extreme regenerative properties, it is capable of getting back up and pursuing its targets even after being all-but eviscerated.
  • DEEPSCALE (Infamous Formed): This gargantuan infected reptile claims entire riverbeds for itself, lashing out at those who approach its banks with immense limbed weaponry, and dragging them to its depths to feed and infect.

LIEUTENANTS

  • LI-KIMRICH (Crawler Lieutenant): This Crawler inhabits the form of a cult leader, traveling between towns promising a way to ‘transcend’ the incoming apocalypse. Charismatic and dangerous, he has convinced dozens to willingly accept the parasite into their body.
  • AURHAI RAJAN (Crawler Lieutenant): Once a Lieutenant in the Bartan army, Aurhai was infected at Ettermark Fields. A great warrior and cunning strategist, when fighting her parasite bursts from her back and adds its own deadly limbs to her arsenal.
  • THE MIDWIFE (Crow Lieutenant): One of Blighter’s Crows, she is assigned to oversee the evolution of Keeper’s parasites. She spends a lot of her time in the field, tinkering with the worms’ offspring and guiding them down new, interesting mutations.

RELATIONSHIPS

THE CHOSEN

  • Shreya. Keeper, as a creature constantly in pain and begging for death, prays frequently for Asrika’s Mercy. He longs to capture Shreya alive, infest her with one of his strongest Crawlers (ideally Kimrich), and bring her before him so that she may end his existence and take control of the brood herself.
  • The Horned One. Keeper believes that his difficulty controlling animal shells comes from The Horned One’s interference, the forest god refusing to let him twist the natural order for long or without a fight. He is convinced that, were The Horned One to be infected, his control over the natural world would be total.
  • Zora. Fire is one of the most potent tools against Keeper’s parasites. As a wielder of True Fire, Keeper finds Zora both repulsive and terrifying. She is the only Chosen he would never dare try to infect, but she is also the one he hates the most, and he dreams of one day snuffing her flame out forever under a tide of infected bodies.

THE BROKEN

BLIGHTER. Keeper considers the Plaguebringer an ally, even a friend. With her help his influence has spread amongst countless new forms through which he is granted partial escape from his Broken body. Grateful though he is, he hopes to one day manipulate Blighter’s curiosity into hosting a parasite of her own.

  • Blighter is fascinated by Keeper and his parasitic brood, a creation born of dark magics, clever alchemy, and the ever unpredictable imagination of nature. She sent the Midwife especially to keep an eye on him. In Keeper she sees a mind as insidious and manipulative as her own, and despite her curiosity she regards him warily.

BREAKER. In his twisted mind, Keeper still considers himself a part of the natural world, simply the new ‘alpha’ creature that the world must become. And as an affront to that same natural order, Keeper loathes Breaker and undermines her at every opportunity. He holds a deep ambition to one day test his own method of infection against one of her hexes, to prove that his control is stronger.

  • Breaker is aware of Keeper’s hatred towards her, but pays his tantrums little attention.The Cinder King’s mewling pet won’t move against her provided she keeps her Cinder Guard happy, and if he ever does then she believes a well-placed hexed will be enough to strike at the parasite’s heart and silence it forever.

RENDER. The Cinder King’s war machine is impressive, but most importantly a potential vulnerability in the Cinder King’s side. Keeper suspects that undead created using cinderblood may have enough semblance of life for his parasites to host within. To this end, Keeper wishes to barter a supply of cinderblood from Render, and will exchange favors to do so.

  • To Render, the Parasite is a potential tool, which with the right conditioning could be forged into the war’s most deadly weapon. It enrages him to see Keeper waste his brood’s numbers on such a thinly spread presence, engaging in little more than small skirmishes, when he knows that there are enough of them now to swallow entire cities whole.

THE CINDER KING
It is the Cinder King who is responsible for all of Keeper’s pain, who broke his shell and turned him into this pitiful creature, who refers to the parasite as a ‘pet’ to be sicced against the master’s enemies, and who culls his brood whenever his numbers grow too large. Keeper detests the Cinder King. He spends most of his time plotting how to overthrow him, and his main motivation for spreading his parasites is to amass enough living force to challenge him. The one obstacle is the True Fire that the Kind wields, a flame which could burn his brood dry with a single glance. But if Keeper is able to master cinderblood, or better yet infect Render, then he is convinced that this weakness will vanish and the worms will claim the fire itself as their own. For now though, Keeper plays his part as the attack hound, hiding his malice behind a thousand vacant, infected eyes, and hoping that the master’s gaze won’t turn on him until it is far too late.