Thursday, August 20, 2020

Several Glitches in the Program - The A.B.C. Warriors For Your Old School Campaigns


A couple of  days ago I noticed a post on Joe The Lawyer's blog (Joe's Blog) about The Realm of Chaos book from Games Workshop which saw the light of day in 1988 Here . The same year which saw my introduction to one of the coolest teams of anti heroes ever to crawl out of the pages of  2000 AD program. The ABC Warriors aren't easy  to classify. A rather simple explaination of their origin comes from their wiki entry: The A.B.C. Warriors are a team of war robots designed to withstand 'Atomic', 'Bacterial' and 'Chemical' warfare. They were built to take part in the long-running Volgan War, which Pat Mills had described in several previous 2000 AD strips, including Invasion! and Ro-Busters. Each robot has a distinctive personality - often one programmed by its human creators - but each is more or less able to act with free will.
This is pretty much like saying that chess is a rather simple game. The ABC Warriors have over 30 years of plots & sub plots behind them. They are very much an anti establishment comic with some pretty hard core themes. Many of these early stories pursue the theme of humans using robots to do jobs that they do not wish to do themselves (following the same theme as Ro-Busters), and the cruel treatment of soldier robots by their human officers. The Warriors often find themselves at odds with humans who are exploiting the land and the beings that live on it - typical storylines see the Warriors identifying such evil and delivering poetic justice to the perpetrators. Later stories also explore ideas of 'khaos,' and the concept of programmed robots being able to discover their true identities.

 The central cast of The ABC Warriors are Hammerstein, Deadlock, Joe Pineapples, Mongrol, and Blackblood.

Central Cast From Wiki: 


Hammerstein has been the leader of the Warriors for most of the comic's run, although after the death of Terri (at the end of 'Black Hole') he surrendered the position to Deadlock for a number of stories. He was the first successful war robot built, the success due to giving him both emotions and a conscience which allowed him to distinguish between combatants and civilians. He was recruited during the Volgan Wars by the mysterious Colonel Lash to lead the ABC Warriors on Lash's post war project. Overall humanoid in form, his right 'hand' is the combat hammer that gives him his name.


Deadlock is a follower of the Khaos religion, and as such is often at odds with the order and duty-fixated Hammerstein, which in the story 'Black Hole' ultimately led him to betray and attempt to kill Hammerstein. Deadlock's powers allow him to astrally project and reform his body if it is damaged or destroyed, and he holds the sword X-Caliber, a weapon that allows him to drain the souls of the living to use as psychic 'nourishment'. He is able to call demons and the undead to his aid. For a time Deadlock led the team in place of Hammerstein, being the only other member ever to do so.
Deadlock was the Grand Wizard of the Knights Martial, a group of highly intelligent robots who had developed psychic and magical abilities and observed the war from the 'Watch Tower' space station. They were given special authority to try and execute Volgan war criminals during the conflict, as well as war criminals from their own side, in direct defiance of the First Law of Robotics. Deadlock occasionally led his Knights into active combat, such as to take down & reprogram Volgan robot general Volkhan so he could no longer create robots outside of human control.
The Watch Tower was brought to earth by Volgan artillery during the war, just before Hammerstein recruited Deadlock for the Mars mission. On his eventual return, Deadlock discovered that in his absence the Knights - no longer kept chaste and pure by their former isolation far above the earth's surface - had been tainted and turned to frivolous pursuits, ignoring the old values of meditation, purity and discipline which Deadlock cherished. A disgusted Deadlock turned his back on the order and went into isolation, meditating and studying ancient manuscripts in an attempt to reach the highest level of the astral plane, and join with his master Khaos. When he was ready, it was Nemesis himself who came for him, and they became one.
Centuries passed with no word of his whereabouts, though at some point he established a Kollege of Khaos on the comet Tiamat. He finally reappeared in the bowels of Terra, to assist older versions of his former comrades, sent back from the future Termight by Nemesis the Warlock, to save the planet from destruction. Although his motives were unclear at first, he assisted The Warriors in their battles with the Monad, a creature from the end of time, only to betray them when they finally reached their goal. It turned out he had been sent by his master Khaos to ensure the destruction of Termight so Khaos might spread throughout the galaxy. With the assistance of Blackblood and Mek-Quake, Deadlock launched a fearsome attack on his comrades in a bid to stop them from repairing the damage done to the Time Wastes; he was forced to betray his master and save Termight so the Monad would not use the planet's destruction to turn Khaos into an evil force.
Escaping the Time Wastes, Deadlock assumed leadership of The Warriors and led them to Nemesis' home planet, Gandarva, to settle a score. The repair of the Time Wastes had restored Order to the galaxy and thus Deadlock and Nemesis had both betrayed Khaos. The two of them fought literally to the death, only to be re-born, purged of their guilt. Deadlock then took the Warriors to the planet Hekate, inducting them (both willingly and forcibly) into the ways of Khaos; he led them in collecting the heads of seven symbols of order, which could be used in a ritual to spread Khaos throughout the galaxy. After succeeding, the other Warriors denounced his command, proving themselves true Khaos warriors.
Following this, he returned to his Kollege with Ro-Jaws, who understood the twisting tides of Khaos even better than he did. They worked to indoctrinate students into the ways of Khaos - often via the bar - while also hunting down teachers throughout the galaxy and flying back to the Kollege to be endlessly tortured. Ten years after the Hekate mission he initiated the reformation of the Warriors in order to battle the Terran weapon Hellbringer.
Subsequently they returned to Mars, once under the command of Hammerstein, where Deadlock was instrumental in bringing about an end to the war between the human colonists and the planetary consciousness, Medusa. Deadlock helped broker a peace and he stayed on to help the Warriors in the resulting Martian civil war. It was Deadlock who discovered that the Confederacy of Martian Industries was assembling the mercenary Shadow Warriors team to destroy the Warriors, who leraned the identities of its members and whose chaos rituals turned the tide in the final battle against them.

[edit]Joe Pineapples

Joe Pineapples is the closest thing Hammerstein has to a friend, being his longest-serving comrade. Joe was built as an assassin, a former member of the elite X-Terminators (he was fired for an unspecified incident involving an officer's wife), and is a sniper without equal. Joe has rebuilt himself many times to give himself new looks over the years, but one thing that has been consistent is his narcissism - the one thing he truly loves in the universe is himself. With an outward image of ice cold professionalism and a habit of seducing women, he has a secret fetish for wearing women's underwear.
Joe's talents saw him sent into Volgograd to assassinate Volgan general Volkhan, and afterwards assigned to the Mars mission; he forcibly recruited General Blackblood by shooting the butcher through the heart, beginning a long-standing fued between the two. After Mars, Pineapples wound up working as a police instructor in London and once had to neutralise a rampaging Hammerstein who thought he was still fighting the Volgan War. Joe's career with various police forces continued in some form for centuries, and by the time Earth had become Termight he was on the free robot planet of Mekka working as an undercover officer. At some point he developed a hatred of humans ("meatheads") and was eventually put on the black list for pursuing human criminals with too much zeal. Pineapples also began taking up transvestism, apparently jaded with re-building himself time and time again and wanting to experience something new. Blackblood was able to obtain photo negatives of this.
At the request of Nemesis the Warlock, Joe left the police to rejoin the ABC Warriors in the battle to defend the Gothic Empire. Following the battle against Termight, the Warriors followed Nemesis into the Time Wastes of Termight to find the Warlock's offspring Thoth and repair the damage Thoth was doing to time itself, and save the galaxy. When Deadlock tried to sabotage the mission, Blackblood and Joe fought each other. For Pineapples it was a chance to get the negatives back, and for Blackblood it was a chance to finally discover what Joe had been hiding in his chest locker for the entire journey. As it turned out, the mystery item was a human heart: Joe was carrying it in a desperate bid to feel, so he could enjoy killing again.
After escaping to the planet Hekate, Pineapples helped collect the seven heads needed for the ritual that would spread Khaos through the galaxy, but suffered a breakdown as the 'Night of the Blood Moon' approached. Deadlock took it upon himself to perform an unnecessary operation on Joe, to give him a much more Khaotic outlook on life - and unlock his repressed desires for more exotic crossdressing. After Hekate, the Warriors went their separate ways, and Pineapples, sick of being on the dole for Khaos, signed up with the Terran Empire as a professional hit droid. He gained riches and status as a result, and had to be forcibly recruited into the Warriors when they banded together to take on the Terran super-ship Hellbringer.
He joined the Warriors in returning to Mars to help increase the peace between Medusa, the planetary consciousness, and her human settlers. When civil war broke out in the aftermath and the mercenary Shadow Warriors were sent after them, Joe developed a severe rivalry with mercenary and highwayman Dog-Tag - caused when Joe foiled one of Dog-Tag's heists, wiped out his gang and caused severe damage to him. Dog-Tag got revenge when he shot Joe through the head, buried him and removed his trigger finger. Due to techniques learned from Deadlock, Joe survived the attack - having shut down his brain to near-death levels - and was able to kill his rival.


Blackblood is a former Volgan war robot forcibly recruited into the Warriors. A master tactician and interrogator, his skills also extend to treachery and betrayal, two things at which he is highly adept. He dislikes Hammerstein intensely, but this is nothing compared to his hatred of Joe Pineapples - the robot responsible for his capture. His constant undermining of Hammerstein's leadership has led to many confrontations between the two, and a healthy disrespect that has spanned the centuries. He is currently a member of the Church of Judas, a religion for robots who have betrayed their masters and pray to Judas to take away the guilt.
His creator, the Volgan scientist Dr Zakaroff, sought to create a robot warrior capable of treachery, but initially failed to do so with Blackblood. In desperation, Zakaroff turned to the occult, and used a mixture of black magic and science to harness the betrayal of two lovers he forced to torture each other. Blackblood went on to prove his newly discovered treachery by killing Zakaroff, having one of his eyes shot at in the process. He left the socket empty as a reminder of his greatest act of betrayal.
During the Volgan War he led the Straw Dogs, experts in jungle warfare and terror tactics, and was rumoured to drink the oil of dead ABC Warriors. He was also responsible for trying to stop Joe Pineapples and Zippo after a failed hit on General Volkhan, causing the remote self-destruction of hundreds of foreign robots in the attempt. He would also root out internal enemies, such as robot designers Mikhail and Marina Zhigunov; he viciously tortured one of their subordinates to uncover the truth, shot the Zhigunovs dead, and attempted to kill their daughter Lara before being temporarily deactivated by partisans. Later on, assisting Volklhan, he used the Zhigunov's virus to infect Steelhorn and cause the Warrior to begin murdering civilians and allies.[1] He also developed an obsession with discovering the secret enemy officer "General Public", due to a misunderstanding.
Realising his skills in guerrilla warfare would be a valuable asset, Colonel Lash ordered Hammerstein to hunt down Blackblood and forcibly recruit him; Joe Pineapples took him down by shooting him through the heart, and his worst excesses were then removed by brain surgery. He was then sent on the Mars mission.
After Mars, little is known of Blackblood's activities. He eventually turned up on the free robot planet of Mekka, where he plied a trade as a 'business man' under the name Bunyon Snipe, selling addictive software to robots; he married an exotic dancer, Ruby Yum Yum Gluck, and still drank the oil of other robots. He also came into possession of certain negatives of Joe Pineapples at a party and was using them for blackmail purposes. He would eventually be forcibly recruited by Nemesis the Warlock into the newly re-formed ABC Warriors, fighting against the Terminators before heading into the Time Wastes.
He and the other Warriors went on to repair the damage done to the Time Waste's Black Hole Control Room and save Terra from destruction. During the mission, Blackblood yet again proved his treachery knew no bounds as he betrayed the Warriors to the Eternal Soldiers of Agartha, and then assisted Deadlock in a sabotage attempt to stop The Warriors completing their task. It was during this foray into the Time Wastes that Blackblood lost his leg; he killed a road crew and took their road drill as a substitute. Following this, he and the rest of the Warriors briefly helped Deadlock attempt to spread Khaos throughout the galaxy; Blackblood loved this job due to the bloodshed involved, and the influence of Khaos on the Warriors allowed him to be more murderous and sadistic.
Leaving the Warriors again after tiring of Deadlock's command (due to the Khaos influence), Blackblood set up an arms dealership and even took on a pet dog, while torturing a trapped Hammerstein for five years (he happily sent photos of it to every other Warrior). When Hammerstein got free and reformed the Warriors again, Blackblood was forced to sign up on threat of death.
He returned to Mars to help keep the peace between the human colonists and the planetary consciousness, Medusa - though he stated he had his own reason for doing so, which he did not want to disclose.
In the battle against the Shadow Warriors (who he respected for their brutality), Blackblood faced off against the Rev, head of the Church of Judas, and killed him in a vicious battle but not before he was turned inside out in a teleporter accident. He was also revealed to possess Holocusts, a banned weapon that indiscriminately eats any metal.
In the most recent storyline, The Volgan War, Blackblood deliberately informed Mek-Quake that the ABCs were replacing him, and permanently alienated Mongrol after it was revealed that he tried to kill his beloved Lara during the war. He then defected from the ABC warriors and revealed he had been working for Volkhan all along. Volkhan and Blackblood attempted to destroy the ABC Warriors but failed.


The immensely strong Mongrol was originally commander of an ABC paratrooper platoon, and the only survivor (save Zippo) of the disastrous drop into Volgan territory at Vilnus - so disastrous it was nicknamed Zarnhem after Arnhem.[2] Only his head remained undamaged and remained on the battlefield. A scavenger named Lara, daughter of executed robot manufacturers, salvaged his head and built him a new body with other robot parts as an act of defiance against the Volgans. She was caught and executed, and Mongrol was tortured by electricity for information - this inadvertently activated his body and he broke free of his captors.
The torture and Lara's death reduced him to near animal-like behaviour ("Mongrol smush!"), and he was regarded as a threat by both sides. He was recruited when Hammerstein earned his respect by beating him in hand to hand combat. Mongrol's belief that he would go to heaven and meet his beloved Lara once more became the driving force of the metal ape. After being told by Deadlock that only good robots go to heaven, he became determined to live a hero's life and see his beloved again.
After the Mars mission, he found work with P.T. Bar-Num's 'Death Circus' on the free robot planet Mekka. He played the part of The Gawk, a giant metal monster that would be defeated by the heroic Spar-Tekus in every show. So long had he been playing that role, even he sometimes forgot who he really was. He was found by Nemesis the Warlock and brought back into the ranks of The ABC Warriors to help save the Gothic Empire from a Terminator invasion. He was then dispatched with the other Warriors into the Time Wastes of Termight to repair the damage done to it. During their journey, Blackblood broke the news to Mongrol that robots simply go to the smelter rather than heaven, so he would never see Lara again. As a result, Mongrol turned to his 'father' - a screwdriver.
After saving Terra from destruction, Mongrol followed the others to the planet Hekate, to collect the seven heads needed for the ritual that would spread Khaos throughout the Terran Empire. Mongrol was freed of the power of speech, but as compensation was bestowed with the instant reactions and speed of a natural born beast. After completing their mission on Hekate, Mongrol left for the Temple of the Night Maras with Morrigun, and became nothing more than her mindless (and overly protective) pet. Both he and his 'mistress' joined The ABC Warriors again to take on the Terran super weapon Hellbringer.
On the return to Mars, Mongrol's body was destroyed, forcing him to relocate his positronic brain into his new body. As a result, he regained his original intelligence and taste for cigars. He is still suffering from deep-seated issues over Lara, and when her memory was mocked by the Shadow Warrior Warmonger, Mongrol ripped him to pieces.[3]
Following Blackblood's recounting of his Volgan War experiences and the revelation that he tried to kill Lara, Mongrol went berserk and stated that, at the end of that mission, either Blackblood leaves the Warriors or he will. However, Blackblood had already set things up so Mek-Quake would free Volkhan from Broadband Asylum, and he would go on to abandon the ABC Warriors mid-battle and rejoin Volkhan's army, gleefully slaughtering civilians once more and trying to kill the ABC Warriors. He is currently at large, an enemy of the Warriors once more.

 The artwork for the ABC warriors comic that I own & read is done by  by Bryan TalbotSimon BisleySMSKevin WalkerHenry Flint and Clint Langley.

Some common themes seen throughout the series of the ABC Warriors that has connections to 40K & other science fiction table top stuff. 
  1. During the two hundred and fifty year reign of the Emperor Zallin, Terran scientists attempted to harness the power of black and white holes to create cosmic spaceways to the stars. The Terran armies, The Eternal Soldiers, used them to conquer a thousand planets. Vast cities were built around the 'Blackhole Bypass'Mausoleum,Necropolis and the Eternal City, Agartha.
    Excess energy from the holes was discharged in complete safety through an underground maze known as The Time Wastes, while the automatic control designed to operate for all eternity was buried deep within the Time Wastes - inside the tomb of Emperor Zallin - and guarded and maintained by robots known as The Mekaniks, believed to be the most advanced droids ever built.
    The maze itself lead to all points in time and space, and with careful navigation, any place can be visited in any era, from the beginning of time to its very end. However, very few possess the knowledge to successfully traverse the nightmarish regions within. Many have lost their lives to it in the attempts, while others still have lost their sanity at the sights and horrors that confronted them there. Can you say time travel & ultimate sandbox? 
    2. The Terminators discovered the Primords (the name given to future man) were composed of a hydrocarbon fluid similar to oil. It proved to be a vast source of energy that Torquemada needed to power his engines of destruction. And so purification plants were set up, to pump and refine future man, flaring off his 'useless' spirits into the atmosphere, filling the air with screaming as they were separated from their bodies, which would be used in Terminator war machines.
    The spirits did not die however. They flared up into the atmosphere to form a vast intelligence, a huge mind cloud of electro-magnetic energy, an evil intelligence, twisted by the pain of purification. It was the quintessence of human evil. The Monad.  Need a demon or strange abyss entity for your game? Use the Monad 
    3. Where could your player characters encounter the Warriors? Well pretty much anywhen at all. These guys could confront or fight along side your rpg group with no problem  

    Official Minis of 2000 AD are available Here

    The most likely rpg to use with this is Goblinoid Game's Labyrinth Lord & Mutant Future because of the ABC Warriors series use of high tech & magic. 

Hammerstein is the only ABC Warrior to make an  appearance in  the  Judge Dredd  movie from 1995 but his mental facilities were greatly impaired compared to the Hammerstein unit seen in the graphic novels. 

The A.B.C. Warriors are trade marked & copyrighted to their respective holders & this blog post is not an attempt to violate the trade mark nor the copy right of the A.B.C. Warriors. I'm just a fan. 

Here's Hammerstein from the discontinued Foundry 20000 AD Rebellion line of figures. 

Ten places that the ABC Warriors might show up in your campaigns: 

  1. Carcosa The A.B.C. Warriors could easily show up on this barren rock, they were used extensively throughout the interstellar campaigns. So any A.B.C. warriors could show up. 
  2. Gamma Terra - The Cursed Earth is known to merge with various other Earths & there have been cross overs with all kinds of 2000 AD characters this includes the ABC warriors. 
  3. Traveller there have been rumors among Traveller rpg fans that a Brit Traveller fanzine got shut down for including the ABC warriors in publication. I've seen a wide variety of Traveller DM's include the ABC warriors in their campaigns over the years. 
  4. Greyhawk with the inclusion of the ABC warriors in the center of the Time Wastes & Blackhole story lines the Warriors could show up quite literally anywhere. 
  5. Blackmoor with the inclusion of several high tech & science fantasy elements I could easily see the ABC warriors crossing over with Steven of the Rock. 
  6. The ABC Warriors could be used in S3 Expediation to the Barrier Peaks as a special encounter. 
  7. The ABC Warriors are an adventure unto themselves & are really nasty. They might well be a menace for a campaign easily. 
  8. A quest for a Mutant Future game might indeed be finding the ABC Warriors or these units. 
  9. The Black hole saga could be used as the central plot point for Mutant Future or the like campaign. The ABC warriors appear as guest stars 
  10. The ABC Warriors have been a quick & dirty menace in a recent DCC campaign of a friend & the players literally ran away! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.