The legacy of the Progenitors is one of fantastic technology as well as terrible strife. Their enemies of elemental evil invaded the Grimwyrd hellbent on the destruction of their creations, and faced mortal beings armed with devices capable of wondrous things. These devices, known now as Magitek or Bloodstone, are powered with a physical incarnation of magical power, Thaum. The byproduct of magical creatures, this eldritch material strengthens armor, lends heat to deadly ray weapons, and allows feats of thaumatological enchantment beyond the limits of mortal magic.
The original elemental spirits of the land bonded with dwarven masters in the creation of their ‘Nautilus Armor’; the aegis of metal and living crystal that protected the First Empire’s knights. These beings lived a symbiotic existence; choosing a host in a ceremony intended to bridge the gap between the two creatures, prolonging the life of each, and mingling the soul of the mortal with the magic of the immortal. An empathetic bond is created in this joining, and the knowledge of the symbiote is passed down tot he dwarven host. Crystals thereafter grown from a bonded host grant these memories as well, and the living history of the Dwarves was preserved in a psychic tradition.
The physical nature of the bonding involves a process of intermingling the flesh of the host with the pseudopod extrusions of the crystal. It is a painful and invasive procedure, with the tendrils piercing the flesh of the dwarf and mixing the heart-flesh with the new shell, but after the initial shock of the act the bonded pair rapidly heal the host, repairing any inadvertent damage. Complications have arisen before where a host failed to bond succumbing to the shock of the act, but it was rare. Once bonded the muscle no longer acted solely as a physical organ, but rather, it worked as a thaumatological one.
The hybrid dwarf-elemental is a formidable being; a nautilus shell of metal scales begins to grow almost immediately over the exterior skin, a structure of latticed elastic crystal permeates and strengthens the muscles and bones, and a network of thaumatologically enhanced nerves grows throughout the body. While the shell protects with a regenerating hardened shell, the latticed membranes flex and stretch with the body, allowing for a near total compensation for the additional growths. Dwarves in the shell barely notice the encumbrance of the new armor, as it’s structures hold the load almost independently. The new network of nerve crystals allows for the integrated control of the armor, as well as acting as a cushion for the existing biological nerves in the body. Pain is no longer such a debilitating shock, dampened by the hybrid cells, but consequently the subject tends to develop an emotional ‘distance’ from their experiences. A semi-conscious voice inside their head alongside the separation of sensation from their actions both act to creating an environment of disassociation. The natural distrust of outsiders coupled with the duties of the highest order of honor in the Dwarven empire earned many knights “the order of the Heart of Stone” as a literal moniker as well as a jab at their ability to stand resolute and unmoved by even the most horrific experiences.
While now a full hybridization of mortal and immortal essences, the Dwarven Knight still needs to consume sustenance and breathe air to not expire. They next develop a hunger for mineral consumption; the nautilus-like shell of armor requires materiel to be produced, and the mystically charged metabolism will process off consumed ores within the body. The heart, once a simple organ that pushed blood, now also processes the ore used throughout the crystal structures. A subject would ingest the metal orally, then once processed in the stone heart, allows for it to naturally transmit throughout the body. As well, they can consciously direct their elemental to extrude items required in specific forms, simply by thinking of it, then drawing the produced designs from their chest (an area adjacent to the heart, extruded from the crystal nerves, and projected outward from the body). These heart-crafts are of purified quality and give rise to the superstition that Dwarves “eat gold coins for breakfast”. True to fact, Paladins would often ingest their more mundane stipends of raw ore or precious metals to then decorate their armored body or weapons. Later in history, the habit of a dwarf placing a coin in their mouth for luck or superstition was rooted in this practice. The illuminated history of pristine Dwarven crafts takes it’s source from Paladins who would design intricately decorated items from their bodies, with the eventual craft keeping pace with the original extrusions.
Raw Thaum crystal
Eventually, after all the physical and metaphysical enhancements to the hybrid are done, the byproduct is a simple waste; Thaum. The red crystal is a waste material generated from the elemental creature, and is discarded from it’s body like a kind of solid perspiration. Small quantities are generated by the creature alone(several grams in a lunar cycle), but the vast amount of material processing and bodily enhancement from a hybrid can create Thaum by the ounce daily. In the initial transformation stages, a week of waste production can leave a dwarf sleeping in a Sandy patch overnight. A habit of resting over cleaned sheets or bedding allows for it’s safe and ready collection, as it is soon evident, Thaum is a powerful fuel source, tool and reagent on it’s own.
The various weapons and devices devised by the Precursors were designed to accommodate the unique physiology of the hybrid Knight, and as such are either permanently fuelled by a Thaum device, or use it as a consumable reagent. Thaum is a concentrated physical manifestation of eldritch forces, and as such has a energy concentration far beyond that of any currently utilized fuel source.
Magitek ray-guns are powerful tools that take a charge of Thaum crystal (1oz by weight) or the equivalent bodily energy from it’s user, feed it into an amplification-dynamo, and output a heat-beam intense enough to kill. Remnants of a bygones era, few examples have survived to the current day. Two primary designs are known; a rifle and a pistol.
The rifles fire beams of heat and light from a copper clad octagonal tube of metal, mounted to a wooden stock. Inlays of gold and electrum decorate the fringes, and allow for a contact point with user’s magic auras. The dynamo is housed above the trigger, with a break-action access for loading Thaum charges. The head of the muzzle is typically capped with a lens of fine durable crystal, leaded in place, for focusing beams. The entire device is hefty at 20lbs, comparable to a human designed smoothbore musket
GURPS 4th Ed equipment description
Magitek Rifle Guns/TL4 (Rifle)
Damage: 6d burn (tight beam)
Shots: 1(3) (or unlimited if firing off FP)
The pistols are less powerful, and slightly less accurate, but are designed under the same principles. A shorter barrel with a smaller handle, and no foregrip space. It weighs 5 pounds.
Magitek Pistol Guns/TL4 (Pistol)
Damage: 4d burn
Shots: 1(3) (or unlimited if firing off FP)
Alongside ranged weapons are various handheld weapons of simple fulcrum/lever design. The Precursors armed Dwarves with every familiar martial implement, often in simple geometric artistic embellishment, but a few examples exist of thaumatologically enhanced devices capable of vast destruction.
Demolition hammers, or simpler “Demo-Rods” are meter long metal hafted weapons with an ornate headpiece. The barbed and sharpened head is studded with crystal tipped sections which have internal structures connected to an amplification-dynamo, itself powered by an internal Thaum stone. A small swing out compartment in the handle allows a charge of dust to be loaded. Each is again ornately decorated with mana-sensitive materials in appealing patterns. Only a few have ever been discovered in the world intact, with even fewer found operational. Only one primary design exists with few variants.
The rods can swing with a disruptive crushing force indefinitely, or blast out a wave of force in a short cone with a dust charge(or equivalent). They swing like a two handed maul, with an accompanying field of shearing tangential force on impact.
When the burst is deployed, energy fires from the front of the weapon head pointed directly away from the haft, as a cone 2 yards long and 3 wide. A dissonant waveform of the disruptive crushing forces shred anything in range, with damage tapering immediately outside the field of effect.
Demo-Rod (Two-Handed Axe/Mace)
Damage: sw+3 imp +linked 2d cr
Ranged-fire mode (Innate attack, Beam/DX -4)
6d cr, cone(2×3), double knockback, RoF 1, Shots 1(3) (or unlimited if firing off FP)