Joey Pruitt’s Vorl .stls are available here: Vorl 3D print files
The Vorl are an intelligent, technologically alien species who were connected to the Nexus some time during the PanHuman Second or Third Ages (precise connection times are not known). They are a symbiosis, a merge of three distinct creatures who, far back in their evolution, merged to better forage and survive. Since then, the Vorl have continually tampered with their genetic make-up – indeed, it is part of their (complex) reproductive practices that DNA from species they eat are incorporated into their offspring.
A Vorl singleton is termed a zugon and consists of three different symbiotes. At the top is a cephalite, a very intelligent ‘head’ and ‘communicator’ who retains use of their (delicate) arms but whose legs have atrophied. The cephalite feeds on exudations from the middle creature, a torsite, and the lower creature, the ambulite. Cephalites sometimes operate on their inside vehicles or similar protected areas as ‘Technicians’, a much-respected caste within Vorl society. They are given nutrient sacs containing the exudations of an ambulite to overcome their lack of digestive tract – which has also atrophied.
The torsite was once a brachiator (and when separated still does so) and retains their strong arms and provides reproductive capabilities. The torsite’s legs have also atrophied and they, in turn, feed off exudations from the lower creature, the ambulite (whose ‘mouth’ is at the front. It is suspected the ambulite was once a broad-spectrum herbivore but which now supplements its diet of Vorl groundnuts and other, nutrient-rich, Vorl vegetation with bites of intelligent creatures it comes across. Their young feed off the ambulites secretions within the reproductive sac of the torsite, and eventually pupate into small Vorl, but may live off the decaying flesh of their ‘parent’ (and each other) if their parent dies.
The term hearth is used to refer to a a group of Vorl living or operating together so is also a structure that can vary widely in size. The most senior or most able Vorl in the hearth is given a term which can loosely be translated as hearth-nurturer or hearth-protector, though for convenience is often referred to as hearth-mother by panhumans.
In its broadest terms, a nest is a community of Vorl. It is most often used in the same way we might say ‘clan’, where the most capable of all the hearth-mothers or hearth-protectors in the nest – a nest-mother – rules over a large group of related Vorl.
An ordo is a large community of Vorl nests led by the most capable of all the nest-mothers in the ordo – the literal translation of which is ‘protector of many associated nests against adversity’. Panhumans translate this as war-chief, though nest-matriarch or nest-grandmother might reflect the role just as well.
An ordo can span many systems and grow to immense power, but somewhere along its life the member Vorl become too detached or remote from each other and begin to ‘smell’ wrong – comparable to the shards of the Concord’s IMTel drifting apart. At such a time, the ordo will fragment into a large number of warring nests or groups of nests. These fragments then frequently consolidate along compatibility lines into fewer, competing ordo.
Military – on the table
The Vorl are a strongly community-oriented species, so focus on group support and strength rather than individual capability. Whilst they have their own equivalent of a lightweight, IMTel nanosphere, they have no morphs or related species corresponding to NuHu. As a result, capabilities are distributed throughout a unit. This gives immense flexibility but, as casualties are taken, a unit’s capabilities markedly diminish.
At present only the Vorl Leading Claw formation is documented, such army-leading or scouting formations being the most frequently encountered on the borders of the PanHuman Concord and Isorian Senatex. The Leading Claw selector is predominantly and infantry force, though Vorl have been known to have personal skimmers and transports.
The Vorl rely on close-knit groups of warriors as the core of their army, such troops being supplemeented by janissary-like Askar. Whilst used as tough mercenaries in panhuman armies (brokered by the Freeborn), the Askar act as light infantry in the Leading Claw selector.
A note on Vorl physical attributes
Vorl ambulites (the lower section) have eight legs and a bulk that is quite cumbersome given their size when compared with bipeds. As a result, Vorl are given Ag 4 to reflect the impact of awkward or undulating terrain (even supposedly ‘level’ or open ground can be filled with potholes, stones and minor detritus). Their manual dexterity is as good, and perhaps better, than other species, though this rarely has an impact on the game.
A Vorl zugon has two pairs of usable manipulator limbs, one pair from the torsite and the other, more delicate, belonging to the cephalite. Whilst the lower set are powerful, the upper pair are much weaker so a Str of 6 is used to reflect this mix of capability. An Unwieldy penalty (Str-1 in HtH) is applied if both torsite and cephalite arms are used in hand-to-hand, though two attacks are generated; if just the cephalite arms are used, there is no such penalty and the Vorl has only one, hand-tohand attack.
Like other species, the Vorl can elect to use no weapon in hand-to-hand, giving them SV0, or can use hand-held items such as nebuliser shells (SV1, Breaching SV3, Compound SV, Blast): both attacks from a single Vorl must use the same weapon and mode and like any other weapon and mode, modes cannot be mixed in a squad.
The Leading Claw units
Free Online Army Lists complete with all stats and weapons for each faction are available from the A2 PDF Army List page.
Vorl unit descriptions will be able to be found in the following entries, once the lists are released:
- Nest-Mother and Command Hearths
- Storm Warrior Hearths
- Fire Warrior Hearths
- Mist Hunter Hearth
- Askar Protector-Warriors
- Lifeseeker Probes
- Hound Probes
The Vorl .stl files to support the above units can be found here.
How do the Vorl play?
Whilst they are highly flexible and potent, the Vorl are a tricky army to master, just like the Virai and Ghar. Real mastery lies in managing the balance between the numbers in each infantry squad and order dice, and in using the correct weapon mode and its synthesis effects at the correct time.
The Vorl typically use advanced squads of Mist Hunters as forward observers instead of the spotter probes of other factions. The squads are protected by their mist armour that projects a camouflage field similar to other faction’s camo-buddies. Once in place and hidden, these are used by Storm Warriors alongside lifeseekers to patch-sight OH bombardments.
The mainstay of a Vorl force is the adaptable Fire Warrior Hearths, the troops able to pour down plasma fire on opponents with varying degrees of effectiveness (mass fire at SV2 or single shots at up to SV8). Given their flexibility, the Fire Warriors are able to take on enemy combat drones and tanks, as well as powerful, ranged squads of the Concord and Senatex.
The Nest-Mothers lead Vorl formations and are armed much as Fire Warriors. They are best fielded with additional Vorl to gain maximum benefits from synthesis effects so are rarely seen at low point levels.
Vorl hate enemy probes and most general, artifical intelligences (AGIs, such as those in the Concord’s machine intelligences). Their own probes are rare and are either suspensor-cradle-mounted Technicians or GM’d, neural-net-controlled, insect-like species. In general, Vorl are fond of using their extensive numbers of hound probes to destroy enemy probes and buddy drones.
Tim has written a starter Vorl tactics article from the playtest experiences.
A quick note on Vorl Names
Vorl names are highly varied and distinct, sometimes based around items in nature, at other times based on warlike or ominous events, or even on jokes. Names such as ‘Crouching Zna’, ‘Dark Fang’, ‘Scything Wind’ or ‘Drunken Charger’ would not be commented upon. The Ordo have names are often based on the anatomy of a Vorl, such as the Ordo of the Red Claws or the highly successful Ordo of the Third Claw in the Fifth Age, but may refer to weapons (the Ordo of the Flaming Sword) or elemental forces (the Ordo of the Raging Storm).