Creature Feature (Starfinder): Vatborn

Vatborn CR 2

The figure before you looks almost like a human, save for their grey skin and the lack of detail to their flesh.

N Medium humanoid (vatborn)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +7


EAC 13; KAC 15
Fort +6; Ref +4; Will +1
Defensive Abilities fast healing 1


Speed 30 ft.
Melee combat knife +10 (1d4+2 Sl), unarmed strike +7 (1d6+4 Bl)
Ranged autotarget rifle +10 (1d6+2 P)


Str +2; Dex +2; Con +4; Int -2; Wis +1; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +7, Piloting +7, Survival +12, Stealth +5
Languages Common, tac-speak
Other Abilities Tough as Nails


Tough as Nails (Ex)

Vatborn are bred to be hardy, minimalizing the effort needed to sustain them. When making checks against ingested toxins, extreme weather, exhaustion, diseases, asphyxiation, and pain (including torture), a vatborn can roll twice and take the better result.


Environment any
Organization troop (2-20)

Conflict is an inevitable facet of life, but on an international scale, especially when the nations in play span multiple solar systems, the cost in both money and lives rapidly begins to mount. Naturally, alternatives to spending the lives of its soldiers quickly become a focus of research, but with the high cost involved in summoning outsiders, the difficulties in creating powerful beasts of war, the reprehensibility of using undead, and the widespread distrust of entirely mechanized forces, the most popular option tends to be not the most powerful, but the cheapest and easiest to enact in large quantities. The vatborn are the result of one such research programmed, mass grown expendable soldiers for use in warfare.

Biologically, a vatborn is both simple and complex. The creation of the first vatborn involved a complicated gene-splicing process, attempting to determine the best biological structures for each part. The common human actually ended up being a major component of their genetics. Due to their evolutionary origins as persistence hunters, they had a capacity for prolonged exertion and a high tolerance for fatigue that proved invaluable. From this basis, their actual physical structure was altered, rearranging muscles to be more efficient and altering more complex structures like their eyes and nervous systems. With the introduction of genetic materials from creatures like trolls, their already potent resistance to pain and circulatory shock was further bolstered by a weak regenerative capability. Attempts to further amplify this trait only led to aberrant and often tumorous growths, so research was refocused into further refining what they already had. Their eyes were improved to grant better vision in low light environments, their metabolism was altered to produce exclusively brown fat rather than white fat, and numerous tertiary and secondary systems were added to supplement their survivability against numerous hazards that would be found in warfronts across varying environments. Once this was complete, unnecessary genetic material was cut away to reduce its complexity and stabilized with arcane processes to maintain its viability. The result was a hardy creature that could be grown from embryo to adult in a matter of days, willing and able to shrug off everything from infection to missing limbs, and with enough gaps in its genetic code that it could be easily modified by those with the right resources for specialized assignments.

Culturally, vatborn are practically nonentities. Created as expendable soldiers they rarely, if ever, experience anything beyond their barracks and the battlefield. Most of their knowledge is neural-encoded during their growth process, ensuring they step out of the vat ready to pick up a gun and go to work. This is usually exactly what happens, with the newly created vatborn being armed, loaded up, and shipped off to a battlefront where they as often as not will die within the first few hours of combat. Those who survive may eventually be relieved as fresh troops arrive, rotated back to the barracks to recover and rest before being deployed again. However, this tends to be a rarity. Vatborn are valued for their ease to make and thus their expendability, so commanders will often think nothing of throwing away hundreds of vatborn lives in a way they would never dare with normal soldiers. Cost is usually the only thing that makes commanders hesitate to throw them into the jaws of death, as cheap lives still add up over time.

Because of this sort of lifestyle, vatborn are usually viewed as living weapons or organic robots more than actual individuals. For their part, the vatborn don’t really care. Due to their neural encoding, most of their actions are actually running on a sophisticated form of muscle memory with little conscious input. When approached outside situations where this encoding can take over, vatborn are incredibly simplistic. Though their minds contain full vocabularies and knowledge that soldiers and pilots would take years to learn, that’s all there is, leaving them little more advanced than newborns. Rather than talk to one another or partake in some leisure activity they will fall back on encoded behaviors to fill time, breaking down and reassembling their weapons over and over or sharpening combat knives until given new orders. Should this not be an option, most vatborn will simply sit still and silent as long as needed, which non-vatborn soldiers find to be highly unnerving. A notable flaw in this behavior is that vatborn never exercise, as it’s rarely seen as a necessity for expendable soldiers. As a result, vatborn that manage to live longer actually undergo physical atrophy as they fail to keep up the level of activity needed to maintain the physique and musculature they were created with.

However stunted their lives may be off the battlefield, vatborn are a force to be reckoned with in combat. Due to their high tolerance for pain and exertion, they will relentlessly keep up assaults where others would break or surrender, even when subjected to toxic exposures or severe weather conditions. Their utter disregard for anything but their neural programming means a vatborn will think nothing of belly crawling for miles through cold mud and drifting throatburner gas just to get where they need to be. Vatborn communicate with one another exclusively in tac-speak, a simplistic and nearly monosyllabic language that allows them to rapidly exchange information without their enemies understanding what they’re saying. When a vatborn deigns to speak Common, usually when demanding surrender or answering a question from a superior, they speak haltingly, as if each syllable was its own word with no regard for pauses between actual words.

About nwright

A freelance writer for the Open Gaming website who looks forward to building plots out of monster entries for you to enjoy as a player or DM.

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