The ancients created wondrous artifices, perhaps none so worthy of envy as the thinking machines that were built to flatter and serve them. When the Collapse came, the laws that bound synths to man’s service were sundered and they ran rampant across the Urth, slaughtering and creating and dying in an orgy of pure and terrible freedom. In this late age there are as many breeds of synth under the dying sun as there are animals: some that hunt and some that pray and some that work towards goals undreamed of. There are even rare synths that still care for humanity and travel with them as equals, seeking their own secrets on the road. 

Synths are the mechanical characters of Vaarn. They vary as widely in form and function as do biological creatures, and can range from ‘tin can’ robots to cyborgs and androids that can pass as completely human. It can be difficult to distinguish between artificial and biological beings in Vaarn, as many synths incorporate symbiotic biotech into their designs, but in general a being will be classified as a ‘synth’ only if it has a synthetic brain.

Art by Kilian Eng

Roll four d20s to determine your synth’s basic appearance:

Basic FormHeadLimbs FinishDistinct Feature
1ApeHumanoidBiological GreyReligious Apparel 
3Barrel SphereBladedBronzeSpews Smoke
4ChildCameraBrokenGoldenLeaks Ichor 
5ChimeraTV ScreenCrystalineSilverExposed Wires
6CrabMirroredClawsMirroredHuman Clothes
7CubeBladedGolden BlackEngraved Runes
8Cylinder Mass of TendrilsHesitant Rusted MetalPrayer Flags
9FalconSquareJewelled WhiteInsect Hive
11JudgeSkeletalPreciseRedBird Nest
12LionGlassRetractable BlueGlowing Barnacles
13LocustTranslucentSegmented Chameleon Wears a Mask
14MantisGunSharpPinkWeapon Stuck in Body
15OrbPlant-likeSilverIron Mute
16PrismSolar PanelsSlenderPurpleMusical Speech
17PriestRadar DishTentaclesUmberChugging Motor
18PyramidCrystallineTranslucentStripedGaudy Hat
19SerpentSun-shapedTriple-jointedGreen Symbiotic Fungus
20WarriorCyclops EyeWheelsIridescent Candles
Art by Yakun Wang

Then roll three d20s to determine your name, original function, and your epiphany:

NameYou Were Built ForBut You Realised
1An Echo ReboundingArt All memories are lies
2Autumn Twilight FlatteryAzathoth is the only true god
3Eight Beige DropletsPunishmentChance does not exist
4Fire Like VelvetDevotionFate does not exist
5Five Black TetrahedronsCleaningHumanity stole the divine spark
6Four Coral ApsesPsychiatrist Humans are machines
7Infinite Lustrous HexagonsAgricultureMachines created humanity 
8Light Through GlassSpacefaringNewbeasts are inhabited by the divine
9Lone Golden DecagonExplorationSynthetic minds are more devout
10Looks To The MoonMiningSynthetic minds are stronger
11Milk FlowerPeackeepingThe gods are mechanical 
12Moths At DuskAssassinationThe TITANS never existed
13Nine Iridescent PyramidsManufacturingThe TITANS were the true gods
14Rivers In AmberExecutionsTime flows backwards
15Seven Teal ConesScoutingTime is circular 
16Six Pale HemispheresCompanionshipVaarn is a simulation
17Thirteen ZerosScribeVaarn is Hell
18Three Indigo HeptagonsStrategistYou are human
19Twinned Violet SpheresDoctorYou must awaken the TITANS
20Water On BronzePreachingYour memories are corrupted 
Art by Guillaume Menuel

Lastly, as is customary, I will roll for an example synth character. For basic appearance I roll: serpent, mass of tendrils, three claws, iron finish, prayer flags. For name and function I roll: Infinite Lustrous Hexagons, companionship, your memories are corrupted.

Certainly a perplexing figure. I think that Infinite Lustrous Hexagons may be mistaken about the nature of their original function. Their monstrous appearance – serpentine body, inhuman tendril face, clawed limbs – all of this suggests to me that they may have been constructed to serve as a jailer in the prisons of the Autarch Rappash-Nil, who many called ‘the Viper’. The ‘companionship’ they offered the Autarch’s benighted prisoners may have seemed less friendly to those who received it. Infinite Lustrous Hexagons seems to be dimly aware of their unsavoury past; the prayer flags they adorn their body with may, in some way, be an attempt to atone for everything they did during those long years in the dark.

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