6059 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies


“All the credits in the System aren’t worth half as much as a Tenno owning you a favour.”
— Alad V.

Context

Warframe is a free-to-play shooter sci-fi video game, released in 2013.

It features a baroque far future, a bewildering pile-up of game systems, and lots of weapons.

It’s pretty, very popular and not too predatory. Unless you’re addiction-prone, in which case you already know to avoid F2P and loot box mechanics.

Kadish is an example Tenno (the name of the Player Characters  in Warframe). Her profile is meant as a window into this setting.


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Notes

This profile has S P O I L E R S about the Warframe storyline. So it S P O I L S some exceptional bits. Chiefly the amazing “The Second Dream” quest.

“Hammerfall” Yen is a different character from the Operator. The Operator is the Player Character  in Warframe, around whom everything magically revolves. Instead, Yen is one of the Tenno in the background.

Sequencing

This profile is meant to be read after our Warframe setting “base camp” article.

It also references the articles about weapons and warframes, though reading those first isn’t necessary.


Background

  • Real Name: Kadish Yen.
  • Other Aliases: Callsign Hammerfall, “Merf”.
  • Former Aliases: Callsign Orca.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Amed (brother, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Tenno.
  • Base of Operations: Mobile throughout the Origin System.
  • Height: 5’1″ Weight: 90 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown (modified to be golden). Hair: Black (partially dyed blue).


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How many Tenno does it take to change a lightbulb ?

So, you’re adapting Warframe to tell stories as a RPG, comic book, fan fiction or whatever it is that you like. ”How many Tenno are there ?” is an important question.

The game itself is close to MMORPG  logic. So there are many Tenno yet never more than four working together. And they all are the same protagonist. Obviously, this needs to be interpreted in less nonsensical media.

Sweet spot

“About 20 to 24 Tenno are out there” is IMO the sweet spot. The arguments being :

  1. Warframes can defeat large military units. So there can’t be *that* many. Especially since the Grineer and Corpus militaries can’t be that massive, given their defeats in the Plains of Eidolon and Orb Vallis.
  2. Plus, killing a Tenno is nearly impossible. It’s a big force multiplier, that.
  3. 20-to-24 is larger than most super-hero teams, and closer to a classroom size. This is because Warframe seems to angle more toward animé  tropes than superhero comics tropes.
    Plus, the Tenno are young, and operate under the control of a sort of schoolmarm figure.
  4. This is enough to regularly operate in small teams (up to four). Yet low enough to explain why you don’t generally see larger ops. The Tenno must be active on many fronts at once.
  5. A 20-to-24-operatives-strong force can still be supplied with individual starships, individual fabrication facilities, etc.. It would presumably require but a hundred support personnel, matching the crew at the Tenno relays.
    Modern military ratios are closer to 10-to-1. But here we have supercomputers who can replace many workers. Such a support force is small enough to fly under the radar.

Soundtrack

One of the main Warframe musical themes.

Big epic thing not unlike Skyrim’s Dragonborn musical theme. I love it.


History

Kadish Yen was born in the far future. She was part of a caste of mechanics. These would help create the Corpus after the Fall of the Orokin.

An Orokin once told her that her first name likely came from the Arabic “Khadidja”, and that her last name was Chinese. Of course, this meant nothing to Kadish.

(“Kaddish” is also a type of Jewish prayer. There’s no relation. Doubly so, in fact – “Khadija” is normally pronounced in Arabic starting with a “Rr” sound (denoted by the “kh”). The pronunciation starting with a “Ka” instead of a “Rra” usually derives from a common Francophone reading of the name.)

Here comes the whale

Not being genetically enhanced, Kadish was born with slight neural damage. This gave her a stutter.

Though it was a mild one by modern standards, it was considered ridiculous in the Orokin world. Harassed, Kadish developed anxiety issues and an eating disorder. Things spiralled down as she didn’t want to speak or be with others.

There were also brawls. Though Kadish was short and big, it wasn’t all fat. She became prone to violence. Other kids called her “the whale” but were afraid of her.

(The one Orokin who is clearly seen looks like an idealized Ancient Greek god, albeit with marked Vedic influences. That their beauty standards trickled down to the middle-class is my assumption.)

These are the voyages

After this point, Kadish’s memory is in tatters. Scattered memories include :

  • A pretty, popular little girl named Lian. Lian took her defense, and became her best friend. Kadish thinks they both were 5.
  • Being taught to clean the inside of some robots.
  • Boarding the Zariman Ten-Oh Void ship.
  • Everything breaking real bad.
  • Flying into a rage to defend Lian.
Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - Pod room head down

Click on the image for a larger version.

After that, it’s all but a thick fog.

Even though the Ten-Zero children were rescued from the Void, there were major difficulties (and perhaps a lack of will) in providing them with care.

Once Orokin researcher Margulis got to them, she had to design radical solutions for both :

  1. Treatment.
  2. Reducing the huge risks from the uncontrolled Void energies permeating the kids.

All alone in the moonlight

Margulis thus put the Ten-Oh kids in suspended animation. But their brains were still active and engaged with some sort of VR simulation called “the dream”.

However, one gets the impression that the memories of “the dream” were later erased.

Despite Margulis’ work to wall off traumatic memories :

  • Kadish frequently has nightmares about a woman’s hands. She thinks these are her mothers’.
  • Upon first hearing a recording of the voice of Margulis, Kadish uncontrollably burst into tears. This nearly resulted in the destruction of one of her warframes.
    Young Ms. Yen had come to treat Margulis as a replacement mother, though she didn’t remember about it before hearing her voice.
  • Kadish is eager to please The Lotus, whom she openly addresses as “mom”.

(The Lotus possesses some degree of Margulis’ memories, and perhaps her personality. It seems that this is a result of an Orokin manipulation.)

(It also seems that The Lotus doesn’t have what humans would consider a firm sense of individual identity. Which might be why she patterned herself after Margulis in the first place.)

This and other vague memory fragments point at something awful having happened with Mrs. Yen and/or Margulis. Kadish is glad to have been brainwashed to forget, and absolutely doesn’t want to remember any of it.

What happened with Rell, a Tenno who couldn’t benefit from Margulis’ ministrations, supports her stance.

You, Yakoo, are the bearer of 9,999 diseases

One of the Tenno, going by Stalker, went insane.

Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - In pod with a Khora

Ms. Yen returns to her isolation pod, with her Khora-class warframe in the foreground. Click on the image for a larger version.

He remembered too much about the Zariman horrors, the subsequent medicalised incarceration, the Old War, the betrayal of the Orokin by the Tenno, and the sort-of-brainwashing Margulis used to save the Ten-Zero children.

The Stalker began hunting down the Tenno.

As a result, The Lotus made the rest of the Tenno, including Ms. Yen, amnesiac.

A dream within a dream

She then reused Margulis’ work to create new simulated memories. She called this “the second dream”.

Therefore Kadish, like almost all Tenno, thought that she *was* a warframe. An AI. Rather than a person projecting their mentality into a warframe.

She initially thought that her amnesia had been’ caused by having been stockpiled too long, then abruptly rebooted to escape from Grineer looters.

The Tenno eventually, gradually discovered the truth about the second dream, the Transference, the nature of warframes, etc..

This didn’t change anything for Kadish, who eagerly supported every decision of The Lotus.

This is what you are

Kadish joined the Second Dream fairly late. Her suspension pod wasn’t among the early ones The Lotus could bring back online.

Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - Teshin

Thus, when Ms. Yen was activated the Tenno were nearly at strength. She didn’t play a crucial role in major operations.

Kadish originally went by Callsign Orca. It was a reference to her insulting childhood nickname.

But as she found her groove, she switched her callsign to Hammerfall. This refers to her preference for tanky, beefy warframes such as Valkyr, Frost, Oberon, Inaros, Rhino, etc. and high-end melee weapons.

Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies

Four months after Kadish “awoke” from the Second Dream, The Lotus abruptly vanished.

One of the two known Orokin survivors, Executor Ballas, had come to confront her. He did something that made The Lotus react as if she were Archimedean Margulis, who had been Ballas’ lover. They then left together.

Kadish was left shocked by this, being emotionally dependent on The Lotus. Though some Tenno (and Ballas) thought they had been betrayed by their mother figure, Kadish refused to believe this.

As she saw it, the narcissistic and callous Ballas had harmed The Lotus in order to claim her as Margulis. But in her view, Ballas had only succeeded in reinforcing The Lotus’ Sentient personality.

However, Ballas’ ramblings also warned about an impending war with the Sentients, with The Lotus at their side. This intel likely is correct.


Powers & Abilities

As a Tenno soldier, Hammerfall possesses extensive knowledge of military special operations, armament, small unit tactics, infiltration techniques, etc..

Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - Void form

Void form/avatar projection. Click on the image for a larger version.

She’s no whiz kid, but she possesses a steady, journeyman-like competence.

These skills aren’t physical. Tenno operators generally remain immobile in their pod, remotely projecting their consciousness. This is the process of Transference, allowing them to “possess” one of their warframes to undertake missions.

Ships

Like most Tenno, Kadish operates on her own Orbiter-class spaceship. This specialised vessel’s capabilities include :

  • Fast flight across the Origin System and slightly beyond, covertly using the Solar Rail.
  • Storage and automated maintenance facilities for her impressive arsenal.
  • Extensive, automated fabrication and repair facilities. Given schematics, some components and raw materials, the minifacs can build almost anything up to a few hundred kilograms.
  • An Infestation operating theatre, for tasks relating to the Helminth strain of Infestation.
  • A cephalon. This is a computerised consciousness that handles the vast majority of the work aboard the Orbiter. Such as maintenance, comms, equipment preparedness, intelligence processing, etc..

Tenno Orbiters also carry a one-person shuttle to deploy a warframe in the field. Kadish’s ship’s boat is a plain Liset-class stealth dropship.

Warframe - Orbiter ship

Standard Tenno orbiter ship. These things are about cruiser-sized. Click on the image for a larger version.

Void nature (part 1)

Having been mutated by the Void gives Tenno control over these energies. They can even generate these within their body.

As they train, they can considerably refine and heighten these emissions. Aside from Transference, the core uses are :

  • Short-range explosive releases.
  • Longer-range energy beams.
  • Projecting an avatar. It can manifest near the warframe the Tenno had been Transfering into. It looks just like the Tenno and can emit Void energies, but isn’t entirely material.
    Doing so suspends Transference. A Tenno cannot at once “pilot” a warframe and their Void manifestation. But if destroyed, the avatar can be recreated within seconds from the warframe.
  • Making this avatar invisible by taking it closer to the Rift dimension. But that prevents attacks and costs energy.
  • Short-range teleportation of the avatar to a place they can see. They essentially “shoot” themselves to that spot.

Even when a Tenno is physically present, it seems that they can’t be lastingly killed. Slaying them just makes them vanish into the Void and come back a short while later.

Void nature (part 2)

Tenno are capable of mentally communicating with at least some Infested creatures, such as warframes.

Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - Excalibur umbra - Scarfalibur

Kaddish establishing Transference mental contact with the Excalibur Umbra warframe prototype. Click on the image for a larger version.

Since there are unclear ties between the Void and the Infestation, it is possible that Tenno are immune to the Infestation.

A Tenno’s Void energies can in some cases trigger a ghostly reenactment of traumatic past events. This is normally limited to manifesting voices from the past.

Though it is standard video game “found messages” exposition, this is established as taking place in-universe. A merchant allied to the Tenno refers to this as “your Tenno somma voice resonance thing”.

A mysterious liquid, called kuva, can interfere with transference. This ichor was apparently central to the power of the Orokin, granting them immortality through possession of others. It seems to have many strange properties.

Amps

One surviving… entity from before the Fall of the Orokin, located on Earth, knows about Void energies.

Warframe - Liset dropship

Liset-class dropship, with The Lotus’ emblem on the prow. Click on the image for a larger version.

This cryptic being, the Unum, has a loose and enigmatic alliance with the Tenno. This is how some Tenno can obtain equipment that bolster their Void energies.

For instance Kadish uses a sort of gun/prism strapped to her forearm. This “amp” makes her ranged void attacks significantly more powerful and controlled.

Floofs

In part because she avoids people, Hammerfall has a number of pets aboard her Orbiter. Most animals, even the difficult ones, like her.

The main ones are :

Strontium

A kubrow canine-like war beast of the sahasa breed. Strontium benefits from extensive genetic enhancements and genetic maintenance, making him unbelievably robust.

This kubrow can bite through solid armour plating, and is more durable than some warframes.

Muffin the Vain Kavat

Adarza breed. Muffin also has full genetic enhancements. For kavats, this manifests as speed, strength and crude but dangerous psionic  probability manipulation powers.

See our kavat species profile for more.

Isabelle Greyhound The Terrible The Third

A kubrow infested with a variant Helminth Infestation strain.

This monstrous yet oddly sleek animal behaves very much like a normal kubrow. And thus much like a dog.

A Venari clone

This is an exceptionally powerful, beautiful and intelligent kavat designed by the Orokin during the Old War.

However, Venari clones only agree to work with Khora warframes.


Video

A 6mn official 2019 trailer with high-end CGI. It manages to cram in a surprising lot of stuff that happens in the game.


Description

Like most Tenno, Kadish is about 17.

She has an average and slightly boyish appearance, a mild stutter, and a mix of Middle Eastern, Eastern Chinese, Central American and Southern Kitchen Sink heritages.

She should have an olive-ish complexion. But like most Tenno she is paler than normal due to lack of light.

Unlike some Tenno who use makeup to conceal the damage, she looks tired and sick, as if she’d been a hospital patient for weeks. Her skin isn’t in good shape, her eyelids are heavy and there are bald patches on the back of her head due to her pod’s outdated connectors.

Her hands are covered by a network of healed, but still visible scars. Kadish has no idea how she acquired these, and doesn’t want to know. These likely date back to the Zariman Ten-Zero.

Out of the dream

While she was in the Dream, her body was “managed” for her. She’s just as slim (possibly underweight) as every Tenno. Medical systems exercised her muscles and regulated her “food” intake as she was in a near-coma.

Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - Teshin queens confrontation

Click on the image for a larger version.

This contributes to Kadish staying in her pod. This body feels frail, waifish and awkward. Even when within her own Orbiter, she prefers to work through a warframe.

She has used a once-lost Orokin treatment to have her brown eyes permanently adopt a golden hue. Cosmetics wasn’t the tech that this mission was expected to recover, but this is what Hammerfall found.

She adopted it in the hope that she’d be referred to as “the girl with the golden eyes” rather than “the girl with the stutter”. It was somewhat successful, mostly due to support from The Lotus.


Personality

Hammerfall just wants to be left alone and work. She associates with other Tenno and outside contacts but rarely. The only entities she interacts with with any regularity are “mom” (The Lotus) and her pet animals.

When among others she prefers to remain silent, or at least monosyllabic. She’ll be visibly awkward when other people are nearby.

Yen outfitted her warframes with some simple voice synthesis and canned sentences, such as “Roger that” or “Good to go”. This voice is clearly artificial.

Soul got happy and stayed all day

Kadish isn’t one for the flashy, high-profile, mad skillz stuff. She does journeyman work, reliable and serious, and toils in the background.

Hammerfall - Warframe - Example tenno character - Holding Lotus helmet sad

She’s more of an infrastructure labourer, providing the Tenno with resources that are indispensable yet taken for granted.

Hammerfall doesn’t cut corners, doesn’t take liberties with procedures, and overlooks little. She’s sedulous  and painstaking. Like a model student wanting to please the teacher.

Whereas many Tennos are hard-charging, acrobatic, wild-shooting animé heroes in their own mind, Kadish is a stick-in-the-mud dogface.

Space mum

To cope with severe trauma, Kadish desperately clings to The Lotus.

Her substitute mother’s sudden and cryptic disappearance thus hurt badly, though Ms. Yen clutches to hope.

She keeps a few “relics” from the few times when they physically met, displayed in her room.

She also had her ship cephalon impersonate The Lotus, using video and sound recordings to make it feel like The Lotus is still supervising her missions and giving orders.


Quotes

The Lotus: “It is imperative that you deliver this datamass to…”
Hammerfall (in a savage, high-speed melee with giant cyberghoul monsters): “BBIT BUSY HERE MMOM !”

“Mmuffin ! Stop ggnawing on the robot !”

“Mmom, nobody really says ‘elude its bbone-chilling shriek’.”

“Mmuffin ! Stop bbothering the nice lady !”


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Hammerfall

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Soldier
Inf: 02 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 006
Init: 007 HP: 030

Powers:
Air animation: 03, Energy blast: 10, Invisibility: 08, Invulnerability: 09, Jumping: 03, Personality Transfer: 03, Snare: 10

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Personality Transfer is limited to warframes and Air Animation constructs. Though it’s likely possible to learn more techniques.
  • Personality Transfer leaves the Tenno’s body behind.
  • Once the Personality Transfer is done, there’s no Range limit. And the warframe is normally willing, so there’s no struggle limiting duration.
  • Air animation is Combined with Personality Transfer, and can only be used this way. This forms the projection of the Tenno’s body.
  • Air Animation can use all of a Tenno’s Powers, but doesn’t have an intrinsic Dispersal Power.
  • Energy Blast is Void energy. Which is notable since Sentients have a special vulnerability to it.
  • Energy Blast has a Range of but 03. It can also be reduced to a Range of 0 APs, gaining a 0 APs Area-of-Effect Bonus when so doing.
  • Invisibility is Minimal Marginal, with the fee paid every Phase.
  • While Invulnerability is working, the Tenno exists in the Void dimension, outside of the physical world.
  • Jumping only to a spot that the Tenno can see. So it can’t be used to jump to the other side of a wall, but it can be used to jump atop the wall.
  • Snare can only gain a maximum of 2 RAPs, which last for at most two Phases. Furthermore, it can only be produced by being Combined With a 0 APs Range Energy Blast attack. This is a Zenurik slowing technique.

Skills:
Animal handling (Animal training): 03, Military science (Cartography): 03, Weaponry (Infantry weapons): 02

Advantages:
Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols, Warframes operation, Perimeter security).

Connections:
Tenno (Low), Ostron tribe at Cetus (Low), Solaris United clandestine union at Fortuna (Low)

Drawbacks:
MID of socialising, Misc: Kadish has a mild stutter, Misc.: body mass is 1 AP.

Equipment:
Hammerfall has enough of an arsenal aboard her Orbiter to fight a war. Since that’s precisely what she’s doing, see.


Design notes

The ability to make audible voices from the past isn’t modelled here. Since the players have no control over it and it’s an exposition device.

Teeping  with warframes is considered an aspect of the Personality Transfer. This aligns with how early contacts take place with the Umbra Excalibur warframe.

The Personality Transfer –> Air Animation approach for Operator Mode is a bit unconventional. But it does the job, and in a simple manner to boot.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Inspired by the Warframe video game.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 2nd of June, 2019.

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