Suul'ka Horde

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Suul'ka Horde

This is a general overview of the Suul'ka Horde faction. For detailed gameplay information see here Zuul:_Gameplay.

The Suul’ka Horde is a new faction which consists of the Zuul race and their ancient masters, the Suul’ka. The agenda of the Horde is relatively simple. The Suul’ka consider themselves superior to all other forms of life, and the Zuul agree with this sentiment. Their goal is to force all other forms of life in the universe to submit, be destroyed, or both.

Which of the two races dominates this faction is difficult to say. Zuul are extremely plentiful, have an established hierarchy and technology base, and a leader known as Greatfather. The minions of Greatfather fulfill many roles, and will always call him by a term of respect. “Lord”, “Dominus” (“Master”) and “Greatfather” are all common. For the most part, when you play the game as the Horde, you will assume the role and perform the daily tasks of Greatfather.

If the Player chooses to be particularly devout and respectful to those greater than himself, it is possible for Greatfather to attract the attention of the gods. By building the highest level of Tribute Station, the Horde player can summon a Suul’ka to join the Empire. Once this is accomplished, the Horde player has access to tremendous power, as the Suul’ka are quite willing to cooperate in any venture which is likely to destroy what they fear, hate, or consider beneath themselves. All life in the galaxy falls into one or more of these three categories. [1] There are only seven Suul'ka available to be summoned and they arrive first come, first serve. [2]

Greatfather

Greatfather is by definition Strongest-of-the-Zuul. When the Player assumes his role, he becomes the motive force which directs all other Zuul in the Horde. All information and all power passes through Greatfather; he is an all-devouring maw to whom all the finest interrogators report, an all-powerful fist to whom all others bow, an all-powerful whip before whom all others cringe.

When Greatfather pays homage to the Suul'ka, however, he shapes himself and his coterie to reflect their glory. Each of the seven Suul'ka inspires a different transformation in Greatfather, as he struggles to embody the power that he reveres. By building an Altar and summoning one of the Great Masters, Greatfather submits himself and his people to the will of the Divine. His body, his mind and his followers are all shaped in the process.

Greatfather is also the custodian of the First Memory, that fragmentary vision of light, pain and dawning awareness which Zuul call the Forging. When Greatfather gathers a rally of thousands or millions of the privileged to his side, he is capable of re-broadcasting the memory of the Forging to all of them simultaneously, and they can all grasp feebly at what it was like for their forebears to be in the presence of the Great Masters, at the moment that they achieved full sapience.

The memory of the Forging is rescinded when Greatfather ceases to broadcast it, and the emotion left behind is a kind of Satanic bereavement and longing. Most Zuul males live in a state of spiritual pain which other races find very difficult to understand. The only Human equivalent is the Islamic conception of Hell: the damned of the Muslim world are deprived of the sight and presence of the Divine for all eternity, and Satan is the victim of the world's oldest and most painful divorce.

For the most part, the Suul'ka regard the Zuul with contempt or bemusement. They accept tribute and service as their due, and work alongside the Zuul for reasons that only they fully understand. Only He Who Shapes, known also as the Bloodweaver, regards the Zuul with special favor. As their Creator, He considers the Zuul an unexpected but delightful outcome to His experiments. At last He has sired a child who loves Him as He deserves!

What is a Suul'ka?

What is a Suul’ka, literally? From the Zuul religious and military perspective it is the ultimate weapon. Suul'ka are titanic cetacean god-kings ranging from 1300 to 2500 meters in length, dressed in armoured battlesuits fitted with a variety of conventional weapons and defenses, and additionally armed with immensely powerful psionic abilities, which can be used in both strategic and tactical play.

The literal translation of the phrase “Suul’ka” in the Liir language is “Winter Mind”. Ka is a word with multiple meanings, including “breath”, “life”, “soul” and “mind”. Telepathic communication is called kanayma, “souls joining”. Suul is literally “ice”, specifically the pack ice at the poles of Muur, the Liir home world.

The polar ice on Muur grows so thick that even a huge Elder’s back cannot break it. Suul is killing cold, suffocating cold, cold that shuts out life and breath, that deafens and stills all voices. The two terms knitted together refer to a unfeeling enemy, devoid of empathy and motivated by the ultimate in arrogant, whimsical cruelty.

Over the course of the last 320,000 years, over twenty Great Elders went mad on Muur, enslaved their people and force-marched them through a rapid industrial revolution in order to build a single high-tech battlesuit. Once this suit was complete, each Suul’ka teleported from the ocean of Muur into space. Within the teleport sphere was the Elder’s armoured body and many metric tons of sea water, held in a pressurized sphere. In vacuum this icy shell froze, and the first act of the new-born Suul’ka was to shatter the cocoon of ice and swim away into the void, to become immortal.

It is the nature of this icy re-birth, as well as their cold sociopathic personalities, which give the Suul’ka the title “Lords of Winter”. In the millennia that have passed since the first Suul’ka rose from the waters of Muur, they have traveled throughout the galaxy, teleporting from place to place to satisfy their curiosity, indulge their appetites, and wreak thousands of years of havoc on lesser beings.

Summoning

Only a Zuul player has the option of summoning the Suul’ka; the Lords of Winter do not look with favour on any other race, and in fact they actively despise their former servants the Liir and also the Morrigi, whom they once actively attempted to destroy.

The maximum number of Suul’ka that any one player can summon is seven. The order in which they appear may not be entirely random; some are much more likely to respond to the call than others. Any given Suul’ka will join the player's empire and cooperate at the player’s command for only so long as the Altar dedicated to him (or her) is intact and operational. If the Altar is destroyed or shut down, the Suul’ka will abandon your empire; they choose to cooperate and “play along” with your agenda for only so long as you worship them with the fervour and sacrifices their colossal egos demand.

Altars and the Heralds

The Altar is the highest level of Tribute Station. Tribute stations, generally speaking, are the Zuul answer to the problem of "diplomacy". Like the diplomatic stations of other races, Tribute Stations are designed and built to create bonds and connections with neighboring sentient species. The bonds and connections of diplomacy, however, are generally those of common financial interests and mutual respect; Tribute Stations are devoted to creating bonds of terror and intimidation.

Many of the most gifted Zuul are engaged in tributary service. Imperators control fleets of slavers who make random terror attacks on alien worlds, targeting all species, in particular independents. From these worlds they bring back countless victims of every known sentient race. The majority of beings taken as cargo are sold on the open market and traded at breeding stations throughout the empire, to serve as labor and fodder for rank and file Zuul...but certain select victims are taken to the Tribute stations and offered to a special elite priesthood known as the Heralds.

Simply put, at every tribute station the Heralds are the ruling elite. Unlike most male Zuul, Heralds do not keep a coterie, and perform all tasks, including the most menial, for themselves. Their duties are generally simple, coordinating and administrating the terror fleets, but they are also charged with special meditations and exercises to enhance their psionic abilities. Heralds consume a special diet, devouring victims with the maximum life force--a psionic attribute which Zuul call etthi. The lack of a coterie, the rigorous course of training and the highly "saturated" diet alters them in fundamental ways, increasing the range and power of their telepathy.

As tribute stations increase in size and volume of traffic, the heralds within grow more powerful. In the final stages, when the station at last becomes an Altar, the Heralds living in the inner sanctum are at the peak of their abilities. Their mission fulfilled at last, the priests join into a metaconcert and engage in a swift, silent and savage battle for psionic dominance. The winner becomes the Master of the resulting coterie, and sends forth their Call into the vast depths of space, seeking a patron deity.

One of the seven Suul'ka always answers to the Herald, so long as any remain alive. When the Suul'ka arrives, it must feed immediately to replenish its physical and psionic reserves; many lives must be sacrificed. The joyful Herald coterie greets the deity and becomes a companion to the Suul'ka forever after, living within the master's armor. The Heralds whisper the will of Great Father into the ear of the divine, and insinuate themselves as deeply as possible into the body and soul of the gods.

The Suul'ka Battlesuit

Conventional Armaments and Defense

All Suul’ka first come to the player dressed in a battlesuit. This suit was originally designed and built thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of years ago, and by the time the Suul’ka arrives to join a modern Zuul empire, its ancient weapons and defenses have often been destroyed, some of them lost for millennia, others more recently torn away. The very first thing the Horde player must do when the Great Masters arrive is refit the old suit with new armaments, using technology which they understand well enough to maintain and repair. (not implemented)

Defensively speaking, the suit itself represents a formidable protective shell, and it will take quite a bit of firepower for any enemy to penetrate to the body beneath. Every suit was originally built with tentacles to allow its owner to manipulate objects and ward off threats, and these continue to serve as an additional layer of protection. The number of these tentacles attached to a suit will vary, as some Suul’ka are better at operating and coordinating multiple limbs at once. The function of the tentacles also varies: some are smashers, used to deliver blunt force like fists, while others are fitted with beam weapons to strike at greater range.

Like a star ship, a battle suit also has a number of attachment points for Modules. Different Suul’ka will have different numbers of attachment points, which reflect not only their physical size and strength, but also their individual temperaments. Some Suul'ka are more inclined to use tools than others, and this inclination is reflected in the suit which each Great Elder designed, centuries ago.

The Kraken has attachment points for the largest number of Modules, while the Siren has the fewest. There are five Module types available for every battlesuit, but mixing and matching them will allow the Zuul player to provide the gods with some flexibility in tactics. Any given battlesuit Module can carry 6 light guns, 4 medium guns, 2 heavy guns, 3 bio missiles, or 3 Zuul assault shuttles.

Suul'ka Psionic Abilities

In addition to the defensive and offensive capabilities associated with the suit in tactical combat, the Suul’ka have powerful Psionic abilities which can be used strategically or tactically. All Suul'ka abilities are grounded in either Telepathy or Telekinesis, which every Liir possess at birth. In the Great Elders these are simply more powerful and advanced. Every Suul’ka is capable of using all the base powers, but most of the Lords specialize in one area or another, and will be able to direct their energies more efficiently if they stay within a personal comfort zone.

  • Teleportation
    • The Suul’ka method of personal faster-than-light transport is Teleportation. This is an extremely advanced form of telekinesis, and no other race in the game is capable of the brute force necessary to literally fold space. Every Suul’ka is able to transport itself and a certain tonnage of escort ships; the number of ships it can carry will depend on strength.
    • Teleportation can be used for both strategic and tactical movement.
  • Heal
    • All Liir, even the very small ones, are adept at healing. The species has a very long natural life span, limited only if they remain within a gravity well to die. One of the reasons that they live so long is that they use their psionic abilities to regenerate tissue damage, even at the molecular level. If given sufficient time to recover, a Suul'ka can heal even catastrophic damage to its body. It takes time and meditation, however, so the command to Heal its own flesh can only be issued during strategic turns.
  • Life Drain
    • All living things contain the energy of life. This energy is the sum of the electrical impulses of a nervous system, the chemical reactions of the respiration and photosynthesis, the kinetic energy of fluids in motion, and the potential energy bound within molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles, and the vitalist force of the universe itself, which attaches to all matter.
    • A Suul’ka is capable of attacking life at this fundamental level, and siphoning away the raw energy of life, which the Zuul call dhammai. They are able to devour the lives of other living things, in order to nourish or heal themselves. If a Suul’ka is injured and does not have time to Heal naturally, the Horde player can target a ship, planet or station for a Life Drain action in order to recover health. The victims of the Life Drain will literally weaken, wither, and even die. A thoroughly drained victim may actually freeze solid.
    • Life Drain can be used in both strategic and tactical play.
  • Psi Drain
    • Psionic energy is also known as Vital Force, which the Zuul call "etthi". There is nothing "supernatural" about psionic energy or psionic abilities; although Vital Force cannot be detected by instruments designed to measure electromagnetic radiation, it is this vast pool of energy which binds the universe into a single living system. All sufficiently complex living systems contribute to the total sum of the Vital Force in the universe, and accrue a tiny reservoir of Vital Force as a function of being alive, in much the same way that they accrue a minute gravitational force as a function of having mass.
    • The mind of a sapient being is more complex than that of non-sapient beings, and sapient creatures are a slightly richer source of Vital Force per gram than non-sentient life forms. By far the largest and richest sources of Vital Force in the universe are Biospheres, however. Huge, complex, massively interacting systems of life can accrue very large pools of Vital Force over the millions or billions of years they take to evolve.
    • Like all psionic practitioners, the Suul'ka have a natural inborn pool of Vital Force which they can expend by using psionic abilities. Unlike the majority of other sentients, however, they can also drain Vital Force from other living things, in order to increase their available fuel for psionic action. Sentient beings may die or suffer permanent damage as a result of a Psi Drain, however, and Biospheres will be destroyed permanently if drained.
    • Psi Drain can be used in both strategic and tactical play.
  • Teach
    • The Zuul have always had a disadvantage in research. At times they turn to their "gods" for guidance in the quest for knowledge, and the Suul'ka attempt to convey their knowledge of the universe and its workings telepathically. It is a process similar to "pushing" research, for other factions. Unfortunately, the mind of a Suul'ka is vast and unspeakably ancient, while the mind of any individual Zuul is tiny and frail by comparison. The price for Teaching is death for all who are too weak or confused to catch the spark of the idea; the Suul'ka will continue to burn minds until it finds the one Zuul capable of weakly mumbling "Eureka...please, Lord, stop..."
    • This ability can be used only in strategic turns.
    • NOTE: This ability is currently NYI as of 7/10/2013
  • Telekinetic Punch
    • This is a straight-forward physical attack, directly analogous to a blow from a fist. The difference is that a Suul'ka mental fist is the size of a Cruiser, and delivers many tons of kinetic force.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop Metakinesis, and link many minds into one. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Hold
    • Like a TK Punch, this is a straight-forward use of massive telekinetic ability, which holds an enemy vessel in place, even if engines are firing at maximum.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop metaconcert ability, and link many minds into one. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Crush
    • Another use of powerful telekinesis. A crushing attack exerts pressure on a ship's hull. On small ships it may engulf the entire ship at once; on larger vessels it may crush a section or do impact damage on the hull.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop Metakinesis. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Repair Armor
    • This discipline is one of the first developed by any Suul'ka, as the ability to repair and patch their own armour is vital to long-term survival in the void. The Suul'ka uses telekinesis to temporarily weld any breaches in the battlesuit, drawing the steel from surrounding armor.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop Metakinesis. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Reflection
    • Reflection is an extremely refined use of Telekinesis as a shield in combat; it creates a field which returns all beams, missiles and projectiles to their point of origin.
    • The ability to mount a Reflection defence is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop Metakinesis and Reflection, although the latter is a very rare discipline. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Block
    • Block is a mental defence, used to screen and spoof psionic methods of detection such as Life Sense, Far Sense, and Listening. It is a cloaking mechanism which shields the operator from other beings with psionic ability.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they master Telepathy. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Listen
    • Listen is a scanning ability based in Telepathy. It allows the Listener to not only detect cloaked vessels, but see any movement commands issued to the enemy ships.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop Telepathy, Life Sense and Far Sense ability. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Fear
    • Fear is a powerful mental attack, available to those who master Empathy. The attacker rips open the hindbrain of the victim, and forces the brain to dredge up his or her fundamental terrors. The victim responds with panic, and whole crews at once can fire wildly and flee like frightened animals if the attack is successful.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop Empathy. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Coercion
    • Coercion is a powerful psionic attack, available only to a few who master both Telepathy and Coercion.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races, and the Zuul are naturally adept. It can be used only in tactical combat.
  • Inspiration
    • Inspiration is the simplest of all psionic defence mechanisms. It is a wave of confidence and well-being which washes over the crew of a friendly ship or, if the broadcaster is as powerful as a Suul'ka, sometimes over a whole fleet simultaneously. It temporarily boosts the crew's resistance to certain forms of psionic attack, in particular Coercion and Fear.
    • This ability is not unique to Suul'ka; it can be mastered by other races if they develop elementary Empathy. It can be used only in tactical combat.

The Siren

The Siren Also Known As: Drown-Scream, Sings Too Sweetly

Description: The most graceful and sinuous of the Great Old Ones, the Siren is also the only Suul'ka who has retained a feminine persona. She is by far the most powerful living coercer in the known galaxy, and her ability to invoke Fear in her enemies and Inspire her allies is also very formidable. Of all the Suul'ka, she is the only one who can make the crew of an enemy ship her permanent slaves (although even she is no longer able to control fleets for an extended period since her battle with the Black).

It was She who once ensnared the Morrigi tribesmen and sent them screaming into battle against their own wives and children, commanding them to die by the thousands to destroy the orbital defences and picket fleets of many Morrigi worlds. She was the commander of the Kragodai, and all Morrigi bear a special grudge against her, particularly the Harpies.

Vital Statistics: Age: 200,000 years Length: 1300 meters Tentacles: 4 (2 smashers, 2 beams) Module attachments: 4 Primary Ability: Coercion

The Eldest

Zuul LV Eldest.jpg

Also Known As: Whisperer-in-Darkness, the Traveler, the Immortal

Description: Whether he is really the first-born or simply the oldest surviving Suul'ka is unknown, but in the pantheon of Great Old Ones, he is the most ancient and terrible by far. Physically there is very little left of him but bones and armor, animated by telekinesis and pure hate.

The Immortal's flesh has rotted away, replaced over time by steel energy cores, tubes and wiring which lace his void-blasted skeleton. Capable of crimes and cruelties that no other being would even consider, the Immortal is rumoured to have survived the dreaded Xombie Plague by stripping his own bones of the infected flesh to rid himself of the incurable disease.

His mind remains intact, and the indomitable will that burns in his scoured remains is an unspeakably powerful generator of Fear. His ability to Life Drain is also devastating, and of all the Suul'ka he is the best traveler, taking the longest strides from star to star.

Vital Statistics: Age: 320,000 years Length: 2500 meters Tentacles: 4 smashers Module Attachments: 10 Primary Ability: Teleport, Fear, Life Drain

The Bloodweaver

Zuul LV Bloodweaver.jpg

Also Known As: He Who Shapes, Zuul-Sire, Master Control

Description: The Bloodweaver is a pure scientist, retaining for millennia his fascination with living things. His knowledge of cells, tissues, bacteria and viruses is encyclopaedic, and his control of Life as a medium for vile works of art is unsurpassed.

He is a master of biological warfare, a fount of plagues and calamities, and his own body seems to serves as a canvas for his cancerous art. He was the Creator of the Zuul race, and the Zuul adore him as their special paternal deity.

Of all the Suul'ka, he is also the best instructor in the sciences, and causes the lowest death rates when he attempts to Teach his creations. The Zuul express their desire for communion with him inhabiting the exterior of his battle suit, living and dying in a barnacle-like encrustation of domes and towers; many of them live and commune with their father daily in the holy city of Angh Nagara. They provide him with an especially powerful defence, manning the turrets and missile launchers on his back.

Vital Statistics: Age: 180,000 years Length: 1800 meters Tentacles: 2 tentacles (smashers) Module Attachments: 8 Primary Ability: Teach, Bio-warfare

The Hidden

The Hidden Also Known As: Shadows-the-Stars, Swims in Silence

Description: The Hidden has devoted his immortal energies to stealth and silence, cloaking his body and mind in a psionic shroud which not even his fellow Suul'ka can penetrate.

Naturally inclined to subtlety and guile, it is his pleasure to Listen without being heard, to see without being seen. The Hidden's ability to Block can cloud the minds of an entire solar system, and his shroud of protection extends to a large tonnage of accompanying ships. His telepathic eavesdropping is second to none.

The Hidden has always been envious of the Siren’s ability to enslave her victims permanently. His one attempt to create his own Screamers was an attack on the Argos Naval Yard, during which he attempted to seize control of the newly christened S.F.S. Leviathan.

Vital Statistics: Age: 150,000 years Length: 1300 meters Tentacles: 4 (2 smashers, 2 beams) Module Attachments: 8 Primary Ability: Listen, Block

The Kraken

Zuul LV Kraken.jpg

Also Known As: Man of War, Thundering Fists

Description: The Kraken is by far the greatest natural athlete among the Suul'ka, with strength and dexterity that put all others to shame. He can move the largest tonnage of ships of any Lord of Winter, and also operates the largest number of tentacles, and delivers the most powerful telekinetic attacks.

Of all the Great Old Ones he is most likely to engage in direct physical confrontation with the enemy. He delights in battle for its own sake, and his Suit is by far the most battle-ready, armed with an array of thick and powerful tentacles and frontal weapons.

Vital Statistics: Age: 140,000 years Length: 1700 meters Tentacles: 6 (2 smashers, 4 beams) Module Attachments: 12 Primary Ability: Punch, Crush, Hold

The Cannibal

Zuul LV Cannibal.jpg

Also Known As: Always-Empty, Famine

Description: Driven by madness and the memory of a lifetime past, the Cannibal hungers to hunt, kill and feed. In the hidden reaches of the Black Sea he has found new sources of sustenance.

Over the course of millennia he has left countless worlds barren and cold. There are dark rumours of his feeding on strange life-forms that sail from star to star, or battling and devouring great Spectres in the deep.

Drawn into the battle with the Younger Races, the Cannibal is especially adept at Life and Psi Drain attacks, targeting the crews of ships and stations to feed his endless gluttony.

Vital Statistics: Age: 270,000 years Length: 1900 meters Tentacles: 6 (4 smashers, 2 beams) Module Attachments: 8 Primary Ability: Life Drain, Psi Drain

The Deaf

Zuul LV Deaf.jpg

Also Known As: Ice-Heart, He Does Not Hear

Description: Particularly terrifying to Psionic races, the Deaf is the most resistant to Psionic attack of all the Suul'ka. When confronted mind to mind, he appears as a towering maze of mirrors and ice, impenetrable and deadly cold. In battle he is not only immune to all psi-based attacks, but able to shield his accompanying fleet from psionic attack as well.

His armoured suit is sealed against the outside universe, and his mind is defended from all unwanted contact with other life forms. His Reflection defence is very powerful.

Vital Statistics Age: 240,000 years Length: 1400 meters Tentacles: 4 (2 smashers, 2 beams) Module Attachments: 8 Primary Ability: Reflection, Immune to Psionic Attack

References

  1. Erinys in Forum Post
  2. Mecron in Forum Post