Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Galactic Concord

This post deals with the main stellar power in the campaign, The Galactic Concord, an alliance of various species and cultures for the mutual benefits of trade and protection in an oftentimes chaotic and dangerous galaxy. It's largely based on ideas taken from both the Republic in Star Wars and Mass Effect. These are just preliminary ideas. I may decide in the future to change a lot of it, but for now I like the base I've got here. Any questions or comments would be great to help me ferret out inconsistencies and to flesh out the ideas further. Thanks!

The Galactic Concord is the largest stellar alliance in charted space. It was born out of the Sol-Minbari Treaty that ended the First Contact Wars. This treaty designated the precursor space station known as the Citadel as the site where species and cultures can come together to hopefully work out differences before they turn into violent conflict. Initially, there was no plan to build in an interstellar alliance. The treaty simply set up a system of arbitration selection to settle disputes and is set up some guidelines for equitable trade negotiations. The idea of a true alliance didn’t come until the Illithid Invasion of 2353.

The Illithids swarmed into the galaxy enslaving or slaughtering entire systems and sectors in their path. Most systems were not able to get word to neighboring systems or sectors for either aid or warning before they were overwhelmed by the psychic monstrosities and their forces. As the Illithid pushed further into galaxy, the Prome Cloud, home to the Citadel became threatened. With many species governments already in attendance, talks of forming a unified front against the invaders were brought up. The Great Alliance was formed by the Sol Alliance, Minbari, Centauri Republic, Asari, Turian Hierarchy, Tau Empire, Hurwaeti Regency, Eldar, and several other minor species allied to the various mentioned members. The unified front formed by these stellar nations turned the tide against the Illithid. The combined military might was key in the defeat of the Illithids, but the various psionic forces of the various nations proved to be the deciding factor. By making contact with several of the Illithid’s servitor species telepathically, they were able to incite acts of sabotage and even outright rebellion among the Ith-Kon, Derro, and Tzakandi, which cast the Illithid overlords into chaos aboard their own ships.

After the Illithid invaders scattered to the dark corners of the galaxy, many of the members of the Great Alliance saw that maybe making this joining of forces a more permanent construct would be ideal to protect the civilized species of the galaxy. Out of the founding members, the Tau Empire declined the offer to further their alliance, preferring to keep relations peaceful but to keep their own counsel in matters that concern their Empire.

In 2358, the Galactic Concord was formed. A constitution was ratified by the founders that outline certain practices that would be outlawed throughout the members’ systems, as well as general trade guidelines and rules for the contacting of new species. No member of the Concord can partake in the practice of slavery and must fight the practice wherever it is found. Members are duty-bound to aid other each other for the mutual protection of all. Members must contribute ships, troops, or resources to form the Concord Navy, which will patrol sectors deemed as unstable, bordering upon hostile nations, enforcing edicts of interdiction on worlds or systems deemed too dangerous for contact, and for the general exploration of the galaxy. Any new Elder Relay routes that are discovered would be freely and openly shared among the members of the Concord, though the discovering nation would have preferred colonization and exploitation rights. No new species encountered during exploration can be contacted unless they are at least capable of sending probes into space. Worlds inhabited by primitive sentients, or species that are deemed as “pre-sentient” are to be left alone to allow those species a chance to evolve naturally without the contamination of advanced lifeforms. No trade is allowed with stellar nations deemed a threat or is known to be a slave-using species. Each member is expected to enforce these edicts among their own kind. Access to the Grid is extended to all members. Beyond these edicts, each member nation is able to carry out their business and their laws as they see fit.

The Constitution of the Galactic Concord set up a system of government common among republics. A Senate was formed where member nations can debate new regulations. A Council of twelve, selected by vote by Senate members would sign into law any regulations that meet the approval of no less than 66% of the Senate members. If the Council is deadlocked in their deliberations, the High Justice of the third and final branch of the Concord, the High Court, would be the deciding vote. The High Court consists of 12 Justices, with the Justices selecting one of their own as High Justice. The Justices are selected from member nations by the Council and then confirmed by the Senate. The High Court hears disputes that cannot be settled in the Senate and handles only matter between stellar nations or in handing down judgment on criminals found to be slavers or practitioners of genocide.

There were 38 stellar nations that formed the Galactic Concord, but today the number is 127 stellar nations, with several more than have petitioned for membership. Trade is the primary reason new nations desire membership into the Concord, but also protection. There are many dangers in the galaxy, and few species have militaries that can offer the level of resistance that the Concord Navy and the larger Concord members can provide. Illithids, N’sss, Kroath, Yuuzhan Vong, Nano-Terrors, Geth, and other dangers have done more to bolster the ranks of the Concord than anything else.

Over the years, the Concord has established certain agencies that see to the welfare of the members:
The Sol Alliance’s Kreskin Academy was deemed as the premier Concord academy for the training of psionic-capable beings, primarily youngsters just discovering their powers, in the Concord. They also set up a network of four other academies that mirror the Kreskin Academy’s methods.

The Office of Science and Technology, headquartered on the Citadel, is a research and development agency for the betterment of all Concord nations, though some members resent the agency as their governments also work on developments in tandem and wish to profits from their discoveries.

The Office of Xenological Research observes, catalogs, and studies new species discovered by Concord members. The reasons for this are varied. This office deems whether certain species are sentient, pre-sentient, or beasts, which has a great impact on whether or not a planet can be exploited. They also study the physiology of new and current species to develop treatment guidelines, determine any cross-contamination risks of bacteria, viruses, and possible mutagenic agents being passed between species, and to determine if anything in that species biology or planet’s ecology could be used to develop treatments or cures for the myriad of diseases, toxins, and aliments that hinder the various species of the Concord.

The Concord Navy is made up of volunteers and conscripts of the various member species. The Navy started off as a mish-mash of ships of various member species and the crews were largely segregated. In 2396, the Navy was realigned so that Concord ships would be built to certain specifications and that the crews would be made up by a diverse selection of various species. As stated in the Constitution, all members must commit something to the Navy: ships, resources (credits, space dry docks, materials, etc.), or personnel, but the Naval Unification Act changed it to where members need not offer their own ships, but just resources and personnel. As the Concord continues to exist, the need for conscripts is lessened, as more and more volunteer for service in the Concord Navy. The Naval Unification Act was started in large part due to some ships where being spoofed to look like Concord craft, but were instead crewed and commanded by various pirate and slaver factions. In many stellar nations, military and civilian spacecraft is almost the same, so the idea was put forth that the Concord, which had stood for nearly 40, largely peaceful, years should essentially be flying their own flag in ships of a distinct design to minimize the chances of pirates and slavers (or invaders in general) being able to easily catch space stations and colonies unaware by “walking right through the front door” as it was. The act met stiff resistance by many members that felt this was turning the Concord into a stellar nation of its own and that the members were merely just vassals of the state rather than independent members, but in the end the act was passed by a narrow margin.

The Concord Navy is made up of both space, and ground forces. Ground troops are covered by a special branch known as the Marines. There is also the Naval Intelligence Agency which contains their own espionage (although this fact is not widely publicized) and counter-intelligence groups. Finally, there is the Concord Psionics Division. The Navy is governed by four Rear Admirals (one from the Navy, the Marines, the NIA, and the CPD) and an Admiral, and answers to the Council. The Council cannot declare war or make any military orders without approval of the Senate.

The Concord Navy has set up space stations both in key sectors in highly traveled member systems (for training, supply depots, and crew/troop rotations) and also in deep space throughout the frontier for early warning of invasions or aggression from hostile species/cultures and to assist explorers that may find themselves stranded in open space too far from a properly advanced system. These “starbases” started off for military purposes only, but since many are the only space stations in their systems (and even sectors) they have become hubs for diplomacy, commerce, and even R&R.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Human History in the Campaign

A while ago I said I’d post some details about the background of the setting I’m working on. Well, this is it. Now, I have to say that one of the things that I find the most difficult to do is writing up history for sci-fi settings. It never feels like I get the dates right. Am I setting it too far into the future, or not far enough? With that said, the dates found here and in other posts may not coincide very well at all. Until I finally decide on a “target date” these dates may very well be in a constant state of flux.

The other thing that’s difficult in writing a somewhat believable history is the prediction of not only when certain technical advancements take place, but determining what occurrences like wars, disasters, cultural revolutions and so forth to include. Plus, does it even make any sense to include them? In a space opera setting, like the one I’m working on, does human history really make any difference when the history of the Galactic Concord is the bigger focus? With all that in mind, I’m going to brush over much of human history and just hit the bigger points. The rise of the Concord will get more detail.

The History of Man

The current year is 2437 Common Era (C.E.). In their short time living beyond the boundary of the Sol system, they have spread throughout much of the outer reaches of the Perseus Arm, they have seen several wars, and have been instrumental in the formation of the Galactic Concord. Few other species can claim to have had the same impact in such a short period of time as humans can.

A brief history of mankind, not to mention the histories of even the species considered to also be major players in the galaxy would span several thousand pages. We’ll focus on man’s history from the time of spaceflight to today; everything else is known as “Pre-space Earth” and is of little consequence.

In the mid-20th century mankind took its first steps away from home. Remote-controlled machines lead the way, with manned spacecraft spiraling into orbit. Before long, artificial objects were forever circling above, looking down on the Earth and beaming information to the people below.

In the mid 21st century, the first Grid was built upon the foundation of the internet before. The Grid allowed for limitless exchange of information, which helped bring down fascist regimes. Several periods of unrest spread throughout the world as governments were rocked by revolution and the yoke of religion was cast off. The Grid also paved the way for the formation of the first mega-corporations, which were large enough to rival the power of many smaller nations.

Military conflicts were replaced by industrial espionage and battles waged on the stock market floors. However, clashes over oil and clean water would flare up and, thankfully, die out, leading many prognosticators to predict a full-scale resource war.

That war never came thanks to the discovery of true cold fusion. Despite intense government and corporate pressure, the group of scientists (mostly comprised of those from the European Union) released their findings on the Grid. Within a few years, fusion reactors were being built to power the world and replace the need for fossil fuels.

The discovery of fusion power also lead to a new space race. Colonies were founded on the Moon, Mars, and Europa. The discovery of ancient ruins on Mars proved that man was not the first sapient species in the galaxy, and led to a crisis of faith among the world’s major religions as their leaders wrestled with the significance of these findings. Under the ice of Europa, a vibrant aquatic eco-system was discovered, which proved that there was indeed still life beyond Earth.

Back on Earth, science was unlocking the last mysteries of the human body. Gene therapies were developed that extended the human lifespan, provided cures for cancers, AIDS, and other diseases, and to allow man to better survive the rigors of life beyond Earth. During this period, clones were put into use by some governments. The first Moreaus were born that mixed human and animal DNA to create new species of sapient life. Mankind began to understand how to unlock their brains, and the study of psionics was born. Cybernetics, once the purview of only the military complexes, became widely available during this time. The public now had access to machinery that could effectively replace lost limbs and organs without having to utilize the cloning vats.

In the mid 22nd century, the discovery of the Gravitic Reactor made the once arduous task of space travel, almost trivial. Gravitic reactors provide a near limitless source of energy with a higher energy output that allowed for travel at speeds bordering on the speed of light, plus they could be miniaturized allowing the birth of the first space fighters and smaller cargo craft to replace the mammoth hulks of the previous era. Gravitic drives also allowed for artificial gravity on starships, removing the recovery time to astronauts on long voyages in space as their bodies get re-acclimated to the force of gravity.

Mankind was shocked to its core not long after the adoption of the Gravitic Reactors. The Fraal, an alien species that had long made the Sol system their home had finally decided to reveal themselves to man. On July 17, 2154, a Fraal craft descended to Earth. At first the meeting was cautious on all sides, but a treaty of mutual respect and cooperation was signed. Since that time, humans and fraal have been brothers in arms. That is not to say that there weren’t issues. Xenophobia ran rampant throughout sections of human culture, sometimes with violent consequences. Still, the majority of people (both human and fraal) desired peace and worked against the bigotry to build a brighter future.

The union of fraal and human science allowed them to unlock the Elder Relay in the Oort Cloud. This ancient artifact that predates even the Protheans brought the fraal to the Sol system several millennia ago, but they lost the ability to access and activate the relays. Finally, they were able to continue their search for their lost homeworld than had been abandoned for thousands of years.

With the use of the Elder Relays, mankind began to spread throughout the galaxy. It wasn’t long until humanity would be put to the test yet again.

A couple of wars, that would come to be known as the “First Contact Wars” were fought in rapid succession. The first was against the Turians thanks to a complete lack of communication that lead to the destruction of a Turian cruiser. The war was over after only one other skirmish. There were no human lives lost in that conflict, but over 200 turians were slain in the initial attack that sparked the “war.” Thanks to the timely intervention of the Asari, further loss of life was adverted.

The second war that is lumped into the title of the First Contact Wars, but is more commonly known as the first Galactic War, was fought primarily between the humans and Minbari. A Minbari consular ship was destroyed as it approached the human colony on Antares IV. The colonists were a xenophobic religious cult that saw other lifeforms as a corrupting influence on human culture. When the ship approached, they fired upon the craft with their planetary defenses. The Minbari were outraged by the wanton destruction of a peaceful vessel and launched a full offensive on the human and fraal colonies. This drew in other species and nearly destroyed any possibility of an interstellar community. During what was seen as possibly the last battle needed to ensure a Minbari Alliance victory over the humans and their scant allies, the Minbari withdrew and called for peace. No one other than the Minbari knows why they ended the war when they did, but it was good for humanity that they did. Part of the treaty that ended the war was to set up a place where species could work out their difference before turning to armed conflict. The ancient starbase known as The Citadel had been discovered by Asari explorers a decade earlier, was agreed upon to serve as a neutral ground for these negotiations to take place. This eventually evolved into what is now known as the Galactic Concord.

Mankind was now part of a cosmopolitan galactic community. Humanity has gone from being the “young upstart” to one of the founding members of the Galactic Concord, a union of various species and governments from throughout the Perseus and Outer Arms and the Orion Spur.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The "Perfect" System...

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reading through various sci-fi RPG’s trying to find the one that hits my personal “sweet-spot,” which has turned into quite the daunting task. I’ve never had this much trouble landing on a fantasy rpg. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time during my gaming history on fantasy games that when I found the right one (Swords & Wizardry) it instantly leapt out at me? I really think it’s more of a case of a lot of fantasy RPG’s spring up from the same roots: Lord of the Rings, whereas sci-fi is all over the place. There’s cyberpunk, post apocalyptic, dystopian, Star Wars-style sci-fantasy, Star Trek-style space opera, hard sci-fi, post humanist, and on and on each with a different system that claims to scratch a different itch. Even more generic systems still have a slant to a particular genre that’s fairly easy to ascertain. You can go with a particular genre and find a system that is tailored to evoke that feel, but then you start getting into the system itself: it’s too heavy, it’s far too light. This is compounded even further for guys like me that like pieces and parts of various genres. You may find a system that’s feels right, but there’s nothing there for cybernetics or mutations, or the rule for robot or starship creation are either not sufficient or simply non-existent.

I’ve asked myself many times over the last 20+ years: “what would my ‘perfect’ system look like?” The question is great for any gamer that feel stuck. I’ve found, while you may be playing and enjoying one system, asking yourself this question may have surprising results and may lead you to a system or to options that you may not have considered otherwise. So, what would my “perfect” system look like?

I’d start off with a simple D20 base. The system would have ascending AC, simple Saving Throws (only 3-4 categories at most, and I’m not strictly adherent to Fort/Reflex/Will, though that does work for me in a lot of cases).

The class structure would be simple 3-4 classes at most that will allow for a wide variety of character types by way of Background packages.

Races will be clear and concise without 1001 modifiers for every conceivable skill usage contingency. No stat minimums to play a particular race, in lieu of stat bonuses and penalties (typically ever more than a +/-2 in most cases with +/-1 being the norm).

Skills would be somewhat similar to those found in Star Wars Saga. Slight bonus to all class skills, with a few being tagged as “Trained” that get a bigger bonus, but characters would be able to tag non-class skills if they wish to use them as class skills, but with a smaller trained bonus. This would allow a Soldier character to have Medical skills, where such skills would normally fall under the Expert class.

Cybernetics would be handled in the same manner as Stars Without Number: Each piece of cybergear costs System Strain. A character cannot go beyond their Constitution score in System Strain. However, I would add in the option of the creation of total conversion cyborgs, but such characters are more like robots with organic brains than cyborgs that are more flesh and blood than metal. Not sure how I would handle that just yet.

Psionics would be handled much like Star Wars Saga’s Force powers. Psionic characters would start with few powers, they would only be usable once per combat, but refresh in a variety of ways. Every so many levels, they can make a Psicraft check to see if they can learn a new power, but the more powers a character has, the harder it will be to learn a new one. When the character wants to use a power, he/she makes a Psicraft check and the result of that check determines success or failure and to what degree when using some powers. Not sure that I’d have a dedicated Psion class or not, but I likely would due to the number of powers that a psion could possibly have.

Mutations would be handled in the same manner as found in Other Dust. That system allows for some oddities, but is also built in a way that’s not too ridiculous.
Weapons and Armor would have a wide variety of options. I like specific models of weapons and armor rather than generic varieties that cover various classes of weapons. It’s one of those ways to mechanically make the character different than others of the same class/race combination.

Starship and Robot creation systems found in Stars Without Number are excellent. I would use them as is.

I like SWN’s simple creature/NPC statblocks. The only thing I would change would be the removal of Morale. I’ve never liked Morale as a stat. I’ve always felt that such actions should totally be left up to the GM based on the creature/NPC descriptions and GM fiat based on the situation.

Tech Levels would be like those found in D20 Future. It allows for more subtle differences than the four levels found in SWN.

Sector creation would be a combination of those found in SWN, Starships & Spacemen, and Bandits & Battlecruisers. That would allow for both the realistic and a touch of the weird as well. SWN’s charts for the creation of societies and governments are great, but they are largely human-centric, which fits with the SWN setting of a shattered human empire, with few aliens.

There you have it, that what my “perfect” system would look like. Would I ever actually get it written up? Probably not, or at least not in a state that I would be completely happy with. After all, the devil is in the details as I have found out during the times that I have attempted to do such things.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Starships & Spacemen and Bandits & Battlecruisers!

This last weekend was pretty busy, so I really didn’t have a lot of time for much of anything. However, I did finally get a chance to read through my copy of Starships and Spacemen 2nd Edition from Goblinoid Games and I read through my recently purchased e-edition of Bandits and Battlecruisers by Albert Rakowski of Terminal Space fame. Both are tied to “old school” D&D rules and cover classic sci-fi. S&S is a Star Trek game, while B&B is more generic pulp sci-fi in the vein of 1940-50’s comics like Space Patrol and the like.

S&S has the look and feel that anyone familiar with Goblinoid’s other games like Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future will instantly recognize. It’s well organized and offers not only a great classic Star trek feel, but a lot of great tables and tools for generating space sectors and alien species. They even have a table for randomly determining the forehead of new aliens complete with illustrations of the foreheads! Characters are the standard class/race combination. The races may have different names, but they are usually easily recognizable as the Star Trek race they are meant to represent. There are three Classes, or Branches: Military, Science, and Technical. Characters can get promoted in rank as they level up from Ensign all the way to Admiral-in-Chief. There are also ranks for enlisted crewmembers as well.

Psionic powers are given. These powers are fueled by the standard Psionic Point mechanic. If you have enough psi points, you can use your power. Psionic Ability is determined by race. Some races are all psionically active, like the Andromedans, but others, like Humans, only have a chance of having any Psi talent or have no talent at all.

Section 5 gives examples of Hazards of space. Time Warps, Space Warps, Space Amoebas, and so forth are detailed here. If you’re sci-fi game has a touch (or is thoroughly immersed) in the space opera vein or even just has a little touch of the strange, this is a great section to rob from even if you’re not wanting to play a full on S&S game.

There are a selection of Alien threats ranging from fire-spitting ants to various humanoid alien threats. Since these stats are in the style of older D&D editions, they are easily ported over to SWN or your old school sci-fi game of choice with little or no issue.

The Alien Artifact section is packed with great ideas of all sort of strange devices with wondrous and dangerous powers for crews to stumble upon.

While I don’t know that I’d run S&S as is since few of my campaigns revolve around crews that are tied to any specific stellar nation, this is a solid game that is light without feeling incomplete. It may just be my favorite take on the Star Trek genre to date, and I even liked Last Unicorn’s take on the Star Trek mythos. It’s well worth checking out. In my book it’s another example of how great Goblinoid Games is at taking an older system and breathing some fresh life into it.

Bandits and Battlecruisers is an interesting game. It takes OD&D and turns it into a classless system. Characters generate their stats in the usual way (roll 3d6 in order), but they have a couple other options for those that want to increase their chances of having a stronger character (at least stat-wise). They’ve added in a new stat: Technology Level, which not only determines the character’s starting credits, but also determines how comfortable they are with modern technology.

Tables are offered for determining alien motivations and societal features, but no special abilities are granted. Much like the sci-fi of the time, aliens were pretty much like humans, but with strange cultural differences, but generally much the same physically and mentally.

Mutations are offered, but much like alien features, mutations don’t really offer anything mechanically. However, I would assume that if a mutation like “Centauroid” was rolled, the GM and player could easily come up with some mechanics that would fit and not break the game in any discernible way.

There are no psionics in B&B. This game uses spells. Rules are given for determining spell access and preparation, but no example spells are given. Instead, Mr. Rakowski suggest going to the Ancient Vaults blog and using the spells given there in place of standard D&D/OSR spells like magic missiles and fireballs. While the idea of magic in a sci-fi game is weird to me (though really it isn’t any different from having psionic powers in a setting), I wholeheartedly agree with that recommendation. Ancient Vaults is a great resource for new and unusual spells.

There are several tables offered up to randomly determine several aspects of alien threats from shape and diet to intelligence and social features. There is also a large list of keywords to help describe any new alien. Much like with S&S the stats of the various aliens would be easy to port over to other sci-fi games of similar mechanics. The same system is used for the generation of descriptions for robots as well.

There are several examples of alien artifacts as well that are just as if not weirder than those found in S&S. They also break down ray guns by the color of the ray used, which was an interesting variation on the ray gun theme.

The Vastness of Space chapter has lots of great tables for generating space sectors. There are tables for space phenomena, population density, planet description keywords, unusual planetary locations, space station details, and so forth.

The Shipyards chapter details everything you need to know about building and running a starship in B&B. The system is detailed and straightforward and offers plenty of options in hull types, weapons, and shields, which is somewhat in contrast to the rather bare-bones approach used in much of the rest of the system. That’s not to say that the starship chapter is overflowing with various options, but they don’t rely largely on keywords and GM fiat as the rest of the game. There is also a section on spaceship sized monsters, which is a nice touch.

I doubt I’ll ever run a B&B game, but there is more than enough here to use with other games. The classless approach to OD&D-style characters is interesting, but not enough to make me want to try in for a campaign. Mr. Rakowski has put a lot of effort into building a great pulp sci-fi toolkit beyond the character creation as well, which is really where this book shines. I can easily see this being a “go-to” book when I’m up against the clock and needing a quick idea for an adventure, or even just fleshing out a space sector with something new or unusual. Plus, at a price of $10 (for the e-edition) you just can’t go wrong.

All in all, if you’re looking for more resources to use for your SWN or X-Plorers games, these are two great books. I wholeheartedly recommend them both. They are also a great sign that sci-fi gaming is still alive and well. As a genre, it may never be as big as fantasy, but there are still creators out there that see the need and are putting out great games to fill that niche!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

D&D Monsters as I'm Using Them in SWN Part II

Here's the second (and for the time being, final) part detailing background information on how I'm adding various D&D creatures into my SWN setting.

Gullion (Spelljammer MC2): Gullions are avian creatures from Hydrus II that are remarkably similar to Terran seagulls with only minor cosmetic differences (gullion feathers come in a wide array of colors thanks to the varied foods they eat). The big difference with gullions is that they are highly aggressive and with flocks numbering into the hundreds, they have become a great threat along the vast coastlines in the planet’s temperate zones. They see anything moving as food, and thanks to their highly adaptive and efficient metabolisms that allow them to digest just about anything, only heavily armored craft are safe from the creatures (though flock will attempt to attack and eat anyway). Travelers to Hydron II are warned about Gullion aggression. The local government releases public service announcements of gullion flock sightings and tasks public service crews and law enforcement to man sonic disruptors to scare off and kill the birds.

Gullions found before hatching can be domesticated, as long as they are constantly fed; a hungry gullion will quickly become aggressive. With their feathers’ ability to change color based on what food they eat, and their ability to survive on virtually any organic matter, they make for popular pets. The prices are steep however. Eggs go for upwards of 40,000 credits with no guarantee on hatching because of the danger that comes with braving a flock to collect the eggs. This is compounded by gullions not breeding in captivity, so the only way to get the eggs is to go to a nest.

Giant Space Hamster (Spelljammer MC): Giant Space Hamsters are from the Gnorri homeworld of Gnorrlish, and have been brought with Gnorri explorers into space. They appear just as they are named, like hamsters of incredible size, some reaching 9 feet in length. These generally docile creatures are found as pets, stock, and pack animals throughout the galaxy. Their genetic structure is highly malleable, making them excellent test subjects for genetic experimentation.

There are many varieties of Giant Space Hamsters from bat-winged abominations, to horned hamsters, to hamsters with shaggy white fur. Most of these varieties are rare and localized to specific planets, but other are either unnatural creations of half-mad geneticists or have been planted on other worlds for various purposes.

(Yes, that’s right, I found a use for one of the most infamously silly creatures in D&D lore! Just wait until I get to the Flumphs!)

Heway (Al-Qadim MC): Heway are high order serpents, not quite sentient, but they are wickedly cunning. The creatures are hated by the colonists and inhabitants of Qadim, so much so that they are often killed on sight.

The scales of the Heway are coated with a poisonous slime. This poison is of no danger with contact to flesh, but it is deadly when ingested. The serpents will find oases and submerge themselves into the water, thoroughly tainted it with their poison. If this water is consumed, the victim will suffer intense pain and hemorrhaging that will often kill them, and the poison also causes paralysis. Even if a creature survives the poison and is left unmolested by a heway, the water source is fouled (requiring extensive filtration and chemical cleaning to make drinkable again) and the next closest water source may be many miles away.

Heway also have a strange, hypnotic stare that can freeze a creature that meets its gaze. This is not a psionic effect, but a strange physical adaptation in the coloration of the eyes that affects the brains of many mammals and avians. Heway typically use this ability to allow them to get clear of dangerous attackers. They do not have very strong bites or venomous bites, so they only eat smaller prey, but this adaptation allows them to access their prey and leave even in the face of strong opposition.

Hurwaet (Spelljammer MC1): Hurwaet are an ancient space-faring species of humanoid reptiles. Originally from the Hurwael system, their main claim to fame is that they were one of the few species to repel the Illithid invasion forces. In fact, their success against the Illithids helped the Concord and Tau to devise strategies that ended the Illithid War.

Hurwaet are not members of an galactic alliance, preferring their independence and therefore their ability to deal with anyone they see fit over constricting themselves for the sake of protection. They are a generally friendly people that are always willing to bargain, yet no one ever gets anything from a hurwaet trader for free.

The Hurwaeti have two distinct races and a mutant off-shoot of one race. Civilized Hurwaet are what most people think of when they hear about the species. Swamp Hurwaet are a less-intelligent and savagely primitive race that makes their homes in the vast swamps that cover their homeworld. These beings live meager lives, though they were not always so primitive. The disastrous Illithid attacks destroyed much of their technology (which was largely gleaned from raids on civilized hurwaet cities and travelers), and they have never recovered. Their antagonistic relationship with civilized Hurwaet, which has only become more violent, only serves to deepen the divide between the two races.

The last hurwaeti race is the Salt Hurwaeti. They are a mutation that occurs in about 3% of the births of swamp hurwaeti. These creatures are huge, hulking, and violent creatures. Upon reaching an age where they are noticeably bigger than their other brethren, salt hurwaeti attempt to kills their clutch-mates and their fathers (and anyone else that stands in their way) before fleeing the village to live largely solitary existences in the swamps and coastlines of Hurwael II. Swamp hurwaeti form hunting parties for these beings, and civilized hurwaeti place large bounties on the heads of salts that evade capture.

Civilized Hurwaeti are available as a PC species.

Insectare (Spelljammer MC2): The Insectare are a strange, humanoid species that controls much of the sector that’s commonly referred to as the Insectare Empire. They look much like Eldar, but have green skin and various insect-like traits like multi-faceted eyes (though this is only noticeable when viewed up close) and two whip-like antennae.

The Insectare have set up a large space station near the access space for the Eldar Relay in the Klintak system, and demand that anyone entering the sector leaves immediately. Those that fail to do so either through stubbornness, mechanical failure, or stupidity is usually destroyed by the large defense force stationed there.

The insular nature of the Insectare Empire leaves many questions. Little official contact has been made with the Empire by any stellar government. Only once has an Insectare envoy appeared before the Concord Senate, and only to state that the Empire has no intention of joining the Concord and expect to be left to their own devices under the threat of war.

Insectares have been captured trying to infiltrate sensitive installations in Concord space, in the Tau Empire, as well as the Batarian Hegemony. Insectare have also been suspected in several terror plots seemingly designed to cause hostilities between stellar nations in states of enhanced tension (such as the Sol Alliance and the Batarian Hegemony or the Centauri Republic and the Narn Regime). It appears to some that they are attempting to destabilize vast areas of the galactic political balance, but their machinations are so widespread as to appear unfocused. Still, many systems have Insectares programmed into their genetic scan watchlists and have orders to detain them.

Lakshu (Spelljammer MC1): The Lakshu are the shock-troops of the Reigar Empire. These well-muscled, beautiful, green-haired amazons have been scourge of anyone that has crossed the Reigar. Only “female” Lakshu have ever been seen, though it has been stated by Lakshu that have deserted from Regiar service, that they do not have any males. The Lakshu form of reproduction is unknown. What is known is while they can “enjoy” the company of other species from both genders, no offspring comes from these couplings, so they are not like the Satyrix in that regard, and they do not reproduce via parthenogenesis like the Asari. It is theorized that they may be cloned by the Reigar and are unable to procreate on their own. The Lakshu have been servants of the Reigar for as long as any Lakshu can remember, and whatever culture they may have had in the past has been totally supplanted by the martial lives of soliders, which is their sole place in the Reigar Empire.

Though it is rare, some Lakshu divisions do leave the Empire to find their own way in the galaxy. These deserters are always targeted for death by Reigar forces when encountered. Most end up in some sort of martial profession from hired thugs, to mercenaries, to security forces. They are available as a PC species, but only if the GM approves.

Lutum (Spelljammer MC1): Lutums are a strange species of shapeshifters that hail from an unknown system supposedly in this galaxy. Their natural form is a blob of material that looks a lot like rolling mud. They can transform into any humanoid or quadrupedal form from 6’ (for humanoids) to 5’ (for quadruped forms). While they can mimic any gender of their chosen species, most tend to take attractive female forms, finding males more pliable when confronted by a beautiful woman. Most Lutum prefer their shapeshifted forms to their natural forms. Their level of shapeshifting is so advanced that only a thorough genetic scan will show them to be anything other than they appear to be.

It is unknown what the goals of the Lutums are, if any. There have been a few instances of what appears to be a Lutum taking the form of government officials and being caught in the midst of what appears to be spying attempts. So far, several Concord members have been targeted, but no lasting damage has been done by their actions. Still, their appearance in high ranking positions has caused alarm throughout Concord space. It is unknown if they are working for a rival galactic power or working for their own benefit/amusement.

Giant Mason-Wasps (Al-Qadim MC): Giant Mason-Wasps are a dangerous insect predator found on the planet, Zakhara. They look like 6 foot long versions of Terran Mason-Wasps, the primary difference being that they are impervious to fire and have a special gland that allows them to breathe gouts of chemical flame. They are largely harmless to humanoids, preferring to feed on the less dangerous creatures found in the vast desert plains. However, getting too close to a hive or otherwise harassing one of these bugs will cause attack.

Mortiss (Spelljammer MC1): Mortiss are space-bound creatures that are a bane to asteroid miners in sectors of the galaxy. These creatures burrow into hulls and spread quickly causing great damage to the structural integrity of a hull in a short time. Though infestations are easily dealt with a healthy application of fire, they can be very dangerous if a miner stumbled upon a mortiss growth on an asteroid as the creatures will a poisonous sting that can cause delusional effects.

Pahari (Al-Qadim MC): Pahari are amphibious, shapechanging humanoids that live in the oceans and coastlines of Zakhara. Their primary form is that of a centauriod with the upper body of a beautiful female human and the lower body of a sunfish. They can transform their lower bodies into humanoid legs for travel on land. While their species has two genders, the differences are internal rather than the typical external differences of most humanoid species. Their culture is advanced with great underwater cities, but they not developed much in the way of weaponry.

The Pahari are a peaceful species that has had peaceful contact with many species and stellar nations. They are currently in talks to join the Galactic Concord, who they have had the most contact with. Few have left their ocean homes, but a few have beyond ambassadors and their retinues. These beings are typically naïve to the dangers of the galaxy, but they sadly soon learn.

Pahari are available as a PC species if the GM approves.

Puffer (Spelljammer MC1): Puffers are a strange form of life that can survive the rigors of space for an indeterminate amount of time in a form of stasis drifting along until coming into contact with a starship, asteroid, or planet where it changes into its active form and becomes a vicious killing machine.

In its dormant state the puffer resembles a tightly-stretched balloon-a featureless sphere floating through space. It can be as large as 40' in diameter, or perhaps as small as half that, depending on how long it has been dormant. Upon close inspection, its smooth skin looks obviously different from an asteroid or other natural object.

When active, the puffer resembles a cross between a crocodile and a scorpion. It has a mouthful of sharp fangs and a poison stinger in its tail, which it keeps curled over its back, ready to strike a foe in any direction.

A puffer can propel itself slowly through space by exhaling a small trickle of air. It cannot approach the speed of starships and cannot enter drillspace, of course, but it can sense any ship or other large object within 100 miles. The puffer slowly approaches the object and, if it can catch it, lands and immediately becomes active.

Puffers have been encountered in a few systems, usually those that are widely traveled and heavily populated. This has lead to the theory that they are a created species that is deliberately planted in certain systems to create and spread havoc. Who would do this is a source of wide speculation from the Reigar, to Insectare, to Illithids, to N’sss, but there is little evidence pointing to any particular stellar nation.

Reigar (Spelljammer MC1): The Reigar are an androgynous humanoid species that controls a vast empire that spans three sectors. They travel the galaxy in living starships called Esthetics. The Empire controls many lifeforms, but only the Lakshu (see entry) are used in any capacity other than manual labor. The Lakshu make up the majority of the Reigar military, with only the Esthetic pilot and ship captain being the Reigar crewmembers.

The Reigar are artisans of great renown. Reigar artwork is well known for its beauty throughout the known galaxy, even though finding pieces outside of the core Imperial worlds is very rare. Their technology is akin to nothing else found in the galaxy as well. Their starcraft are living creatures called Esthetics, and their armor and weaponry is found in the form of jewelry called “shaktis.”

Shaktis are typically worn on the wrists or around the neck (for weapons and armor respectively). When touched, they morph into the item designed. Weapon shaktis can form into any one or two handed ranged or melee weapon, while armor shaktis create armors that look like exo-suits and grants the wearer an AC of 19 or better. These shaktis only work for the specific person it was created for, and typically are only found on reigar and high-ranking Lakshu officers. In the hands of anyone other than the intended user, the shakti is a useless, if not beautiful, piece of jewelry.

The Reigar Empire has had contact with the Galactic Concord and other species like the Tau, Batarian Hegemony, and the Eldar of Craftworld, Zolar. The contact is typically brief and oftentimes ends in conflict. The Reigar have been in an expansionist mode for several centuries now, which has brought them into direct conflict with several other stellar powers. From a species whose culture is legendary, their actions appear to be rather uncharacteristic with their supposed values.

Rock Hopper (Spelljammer MC1): Rock Hoppers are natives of the Wentrill system in the Teleros Sector that are short with a distinctly owlish appearance. They control highly successful mining operations in the vast asteroid fields found in the Wentrill system.

Rock Hoppers (their actual species name doesn’t translate well into Basic and their native tongue is virtually impossible for most species to speak) are a generally peaceful and cordial species. Not only do they mine the asteroids of their home system, but they have also erected an effective defensive system in the fields to protect their homeworld and colonies in the inner system. They have also erected a few starbases in the system to monitor incoming craft and to use as supply stations and to meet foreign dignitaries. Not bad for a species that has yet developed interstellar travel. Few outsiders are allowed on their homeworld thanks to their religious beliefs that call for the sanctity of their planet.

Rock Hoppers are available as a PC species.

Sabu Lords (Al-Qadim MC): Sabu Lords are the apex predators of the few lush plains on the desert world of Zakhara. They are a sentient species, but they are exceedingly arrogant and territorial. Even with faced with modern weaponry, they still feel they have the upper hand, and judging by the body counts some prides have racked up they actually do have the upper hand in many cases. While many have been captured and sold into slavery as exotic pets, the danger in doing so has greatly diminished this practice even moreso than authorities cracking down on slaver gangs.

Winged Serpents (Al-Qadim MC): Winged serpents, sometimes called spark snakes, are colorful reptiles found in Balmoria’s forests and jungles. Winged serpents come in many colors, ranging from sky blue and emerald green to raspberry red. They are supported by invisibly swift, gossamer wings, making them resemble reptilian hummingbirds. When their delicate wings are folded back, winged serpents can move as a common serpent, but they are also able to slither up rough vertical surfaces as well. Though they are from the planet Balmoria in the Ashen Nebula Sector, they have been captured and bred by exotic xenos merchants. Sadly these creatures make terrible pets, and most are released or escape captivity (often times by slaying their handlers) and can now be found on many worlds; often times dealing great damage to ecosystems that prove very suitable to their physiology.

Silat (Al-Qadim MC): Silat are hideous, hulking humanoids standing 12 to 15 feet tall. They have pale blue or green skin and have two curling horns growing from the sides of their heads. To many human explorers that have encountered them, they are described an crone-like, though the species doesn’t have the same sexual dimorphism as other humanoids. The
hair is usually the same color as the skin, but of a darker hue. Their teeth and nails look like yellowed ivory, but are harder and sharper than obsidian.

Silats wander the wastes of their homeworld, Orlisk, rarely having much to do with one another. Small groups will meet up at certain areas, usually in some ancient ruin, to trade and take a mate before wandering off again. Their level of technology is essentially stone age, though it appears they once reached at least an industrial level of technology in their past before whatever ruined their culture befell them.

Mated pairs will stay together long enough for their offspring to an age where they can fend for themselves (about the human equivalent of a 5-8 year old) before the parents drive off the child and then go their separate ways as well.

Silats are a dangerous species. They are very strong and their claws and teeth are very effective weapons. not all Silats are aggressive or violent toward off-worlders. If an off-worlder can proper greet a Silat, then they are treated rather welcoming. However, what is considered a proper greeting is different for every Silat. For some an offering of food or some unique trinket is required, while for others it is to be insulted in a humorous manner. This makes meeting mated pairs even more dangerous as one may be honored while the other takes great offense.

The ruins on Orlisk speak of a time in which the Silats lived in cities and built machines. It is unknown what caused the collapse of their society, and no living Silat knows or even seems to care either. What they do care about is that their ruins are left undisturbed, even by themselves (with the lone exception of their meeting places). Any found exploring a ruin is quickly and mercilessly attacked. It is unknown if there is any religious significance or the possibility that they may be hiding something valuable or sinister…

Skullbird (Spelljammer MC2): Skullbirds are large (wingspans up to 16 feet) carrion birds found in the arid mountain regions of Thrakas IV. They are named for their gruesome heads, which appear to be bird skull covered with an oily, shiny black flesh stretched tight. Their glittering dark eyes are hidden deep in their recessed sockets, and their beaks are jet black and needle-sharp. Skullbirds are covered in oily black feathers and exude a charnel odor. Their wicked talons are like razors.

Skullbirds have no value to explorers. They are far too dangerous for capture, their meat has a very unappealing, rancid flavor that smells even worse when cooked (though it is perfectly edible), and their eggs smell almost as bad when cooked; not to mention the nests are usually inaccessible without the help of some form of flight. They are just all around nasty creatures that are best avoided.

Sleek (Spelljammer MC2): Sleeks are ermine-like creatures from the forests of Inock. They have bright, black eyes, antennae on their muzzles that aid them gauging both the size and distance of their prey. Sleeks have been determined to be nearly sentient creatures, and if they would have been left to their own devices may have evolved into fully sentient beings. However, their curious natures and adorable appearance made them instant commodities for exotic pet merchants. The problem being that if a sleek ever feels threatened they are more than capable of killing their owner. They have been subjected to alien lifeforms, captured and scattered across the galaxy, so while there is a chance that they could possibly evolve into true sapience, it is unlikely as long as off-worlders continue to live on and visit Inock.

Slinker (Spelljammer MC1): Slinkers are small, vaguely bird-like creatures from Naneg V, though they have been found on other planets as well. They are relatively disgusting looking to many humanoid species. They are generally harmless and flee when confronted, but they can be dangerous when encountered in large groups near their nests. They will swarm over a foe and cause their victim to virtually bleed out from hundreds of tiny bites.

Space Swine (Spelljammer MC2): A creation of dohwari geneticists, space swine are one of the most bizarre creatures in the galaxy. They look like Terran wild hogs with a pair of feathered wings. They were created from native swine on the dohwar homeworld for use as stock animals and steeds. They have since been sold to numerous other species and can be found throughout the galaxy.

Stargazer (Spelljammer MC2): Stargazers are the apex predator of Lithic III. They are four-legged reptilian creatures that live in the rocky crags of Lithic III’s vast mountain ranges. It grows thick, rock-hard, crystalline scales that give it its high AC.

The stargazer is often mistaken for a large lump of precious stone amid a larger stone formation or on the ground. The stony, gemlike carapace hides a frog-like mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth, as well as four sharp claws which are kept folded under the stargazer's body.

The hide absorbs sunlight, both to warm the beast's body and to power the beast's main weapon, electric discharges. Hides show a variety of colors and crystalline formations, but generally they are reddish or violet, suggesting deposits of ruby or amethyst. Citrine, emerald and sapphire varieties are also seen.

Stargazers are incredibly dangerous foes, but their crystalline hides are essentially gems of the same type as they appear to be (red crystals are rubies and so forth), making them a veritable walking treasure trove. However, unless the crystals are removed within 20-30 minutes of the stargazer being killed, the rapid breakdown of its body causes the crystals to weaken and become easily shattered into worthless crystalline dust.

Wryback (Spelljammer MC1): Wrybacks are malicious little humanoid creatures that live by scavenging and stealing. They are named for their twisted, rubbery bodies and limbs. They were first discovered on Halavar III, but the cunning creatures have since spread to other systems. They are not truly sentient, but they are cunning and vicious predators. A wryback infestation on a ship or colony can be deadly.

Zard (Spelljammer MC1): Zards are gliding lizards found in the dense jungles of Jubail. They fly in swarms interconnected by their claws. They hunt by flying into prey and swarming over their target, biting and slashing until the prey is dead.

Zodar (Spelljammer MC1): Zodar are mysterious and incredibly powerful humanoids. They are all identical, standing exactly six feet tall. Zodar resemble smooth, deep-black suits of obsidian power armor. This is actually their exoskeleton, which is comprised of a super-strong unknown substance. They have no facial features except for two small slits, which xenologists believe are their sensory organs.

It is unknown where the zodar come from, if its in this galaxy or reality even. They just seem to appear in an area and watch the goings on. To date, they have only been encountered in frontier systems of Concord species, and there are tales that they have encountered the Tau, Protoss, Batarians, Reigar, and other non-Concord species. No one has any real idea what they are doing. Some feel they are assessing the strength and/or worthiness of certain species or cultures. Others believe they are gods (there is a small, yet widespread, cult of Zodar worshippers in the galaxy) sent here to observe and then pass judgment. Whatever their objectives are, the Zodar aren’t saying.

It is also assumed that the Zodar are a species, but two Zodar have never been encountered at the same time. There are only two known Zodar slayings, which is where the information on their biology is known, but it is possible that the Zodar are a singular being that is cloned when one is destroyed. Most researchers disagree with this assertion, however.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's about time, WotC

Seems like it's all the rage to give props to WotC for once again releasing out of print materials from Basic D&D all the way through 4th edition material in .pdf format. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have the opportunity once again to pick up e-editions of products like I've either lost or lost my chance to buy when they were in print, but they shouldn't have ever been taken down to begin with. Ah whatever, they're for sale now at RPGNow, Drivethrurpg, and the new Dndclassics website. I picked up a lot of material the first time around, but there are still a few gaps in my collection. Finally, WotC has proven they want my money again. Even though I wish this material would have always been available, I'm glad to see that it's back. Now if they would just make some small expansions to their Castle Ravenloft/Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt line of boardgames....

D&D Monsters as I'm Using Them in SWN Part I

In an earlier post I talked about how I go about using D&D resources for SWN. I gave a couple examples of creatures that I've modified into aliens for use in my SWN setting. Below are details how I'm fitting more creatures from the Al-Qadim and the two Spelljammer Monster Compendiums into the setting. No stats, just the background information.

I tend to keep background details fairly vague if I'm not certain how I would exactly use the creature. At the time that I convert the creature, I may have an idea, but when the time comes around to actually use the creature, I may have a much different idea depending on how the campaign is progressing or I may have just come up with something that I like alot better.

Aartuk (Spelljammer MC1): Aartuk are primitive creatures that hail from Vortiss III in the Volis Solani Cluster. They are religious fanatics that believe that warfare is the ultimate form of religious expression. Vortiss III is a lush, Earth-like world in a system that isn't overly hospitable, so it is a prime candidate for travelers passing through to scrounge for natural resources. However, due to the aartuk's nature, the Galactic Concord strongly advises avoiding the world. Off-worlders are one of the only things that seem to unite the constantly warring clans, as they see the strange alien beings as a more worthy foe than fighting each other. To date, no fruitful contact has been made with any aartuk.

Albari (Spelljammer MC1): The Albari are a space-faring species from an unknown world. Their egg-shaped ships appear throughout the edges of charted space. Sometimes they offer trade of strange and wondrous goods, other times they attack ships, and space stations without provocation.

While contact with the strange, avian creatures has been made several times, it is unsure what to believe about them as they tales they tell about their origins conflict greatly, even among crewmembers of the same craft. What is known is that they are a psionic species, with seemingly every discipline available to them and they are from an as yet uncharted system. However, where that system is located is anyone’s guess as they have appeared all over charted space.

The albari have been listed as a threat by the Galactic Concord, and even frontier stations and independent colonies have standing orders to shoot on sight in many cases. Still, there are those that are willing to deal with these infuriating beings if they are encountered in the mood to trade; still, weapons are still kept close by should an albari’s mood change.

Allura (Spelljammer MC2): The allura are a dangerous predatory, shapeshifting species. They are reptilian humanoids in their natural forms, and they are a naturally psionic species with telepathic abilities that they use to enhance their chances of feeding well. They typically take the form that their mark (or marks) finds instantly attractive.

The allura have been documented in several sectors, but their homeworld is currently unknown. The first documented sighting is from the ship logs of a merchant freighter found abandoned in the Uriah Beta system of the Alvin’s Nebula sector. The freighter’s crew were all found dead, but it appears they picked up a passenger believed to be an allura in the Galvanost system in the Raven’s Nest sector.

It is not believed that the Allura were a technologically advanced species when they first encountered other species, but have quickly become accustomed to modern technology. Sometimes ships are found abandoned that have recently accessed Elder Relays, but the crew had been dead for some time meaning that at least some Allura have being accustomed to operating starcraft.

Aperusa (Spelljammer MC2): Aperusa are a near-human species of space-faring vagabonds that travel in small convoys of 2-10 ships not unlike the Quarians. They would all be dead if not for the timely intervention of the Minbari. Since their sun went nova and destroyed their world, the Aperusa have traveled the galaxy in ships large enough to modify into living quarters for large family groups, not too much unlike the Quarians. Unlike the Quarians, however, Aperusa immune systems have not devolved to the point that they need to live in spacesuits, likely because they are not as meticulously clean as the Quarians, and they regularly interact with other species.

Aperusa look much like humans of Baltic descent. They are dark-haired, swarthy, attractive people. They tend to act flamboyantly and dress in clothes that accentuate that flamboyance. Their ships are usually after-market craft bought used and heavily repurposed. Anywhere from one family to entire clans of 50 members or more are found on an Aperusa craft. Unlike the Quarians, the Aperusa do not congregate into a fleet of ships that travel together. At most three Aperusa craft will be found in a convoy. Once a standard year, they gather at a set point, usually in some little traveled, yet inhabited system to trade, arrange marriages, and to celebrate for a couple weeks before splitting up and moving on again.

Aperusa have a reputation for being rogues and even spies. This makes them an unwelcome sight in many systems, though they rarely get into any severe problems with local authorities, and they tend to avoid systems and sectors known to be openly hostile to their kind.

Aperusa are a possible playable species.

Asteroid Spider (Spelljammer MC1): Asteroid spiders are silicon-based lifeforms found in the Wentrill system’s vast asteroid fields. They typically feed on minerals and build webs to catch smaller asteroids to feed on as well. They can also eat carbon-based lifeforms as well, and thanks to the asteroid fields being a big draw to miners (both native Rock Hoppers, see below, and off-worlders) they usually have plenty to eat.

If no sustenance is available, an asteroid spider can go into a state of suspended animation, only reviving when they sense either prey or an asteroid with the proper mineral requirements is close by.

Though primarily found in the Wentrill system, asteroid spiders have been found near mining installations in other systems. It is theorized that they creatures are able to mask their presence aboard the hull of a ship (likely due to the fact that they are a silicon-based lifeform and/or their suspended animation is so keen that they fail to register on any bioscans of a ship’s hull) to travel to other systems.

Bionoid (Spelljammer MC2): Bionoids are Eldar that were implanted with a crystal gem that allows them to turn into an insect-like killing machine. They were first created to fight in the Kinstrife War that created the schism between the Eldar and the Slaaneshi. After the Eldar fled their crumbling empire, the bionoids were also cast out. These beings travelled the cosmos, and many eventually found their way into charted space. None of the original Bionoids still live, but their gems are mostly still active, and are highly sought after by warriors across the galaxy.

These crystal gems, the process of creation being lost even to the Eldar (or so they say), are a strange form of esoteric technology. When the gem is placed on the forehead of a humanoid between five and a half and six and a half feet tall, it burrows into the skull of the being. When dormant, or in non-combat mode, bionoids appear to be of their original species. No sign that they are anything other than their species is evident. Upon entering combat, the gem emerges along with causing secretions that form into a chitinous armor and an overall insectile appearance. This armor is very tough, and nearly impervious. This transformation takes one round. This turns the user into a living weapon with deadly claws and devastating energy attacks.

Bionoids crave battle, and most try to keep from transforming unless necessary; this leads many to avoiding contact with other species most of the time. However, there are some that revel in the power that the crystal gems give them and become death dealers until they are ultimately dealt with.

I’ve added stats for using a crystal gem and becoming a bionoid…which I wouldn’t recommend for player use…

Chattur (Spelljammer MC1): Chattur are primitive humanoids whose curiosity has led them to the stars. Typically, the Concord has standing orders of non-interference, but the chatturs were so interested in the Concord explorers that several stowed away on the ship. Since then, other travelers have encountered the chattur and they have become somewhat acclimatized to galactic life, even if they rarely understand what they are seeing.

Chatturs are available as a PC species.

Debbi (Al-Qadim MC): Debbi are pre-sapient creatures. They are aggressive users whose level of tech in on par with Terran chimpanzees. It is believed that given enough time that these being could evolve to true sentience. Until that point, contact is restricted, not only for the fear of “polluting” their development, but also to avoid conflict as they are highly territorial and they end to attack en masse, making them very dangerous even to heavily armed explorers.

Delphinid (Spelljammer MC1): These strange, dolphin-like creatures are natives of Aquitan in the Celeross System. They are semi-sentient with their own language, but no attempt to either fully decipher the language or communicate in other forms has proven successful. They are generally friendly, which has sadly led to many being slain for food or sport. Some delphinid will befriend watercraft and swim alongside the vehicle. They have also been known to come to the aid of stranded sailors being attacked by Aquitan’s many predators.

Dizantar (Spelljammer MC1): Dizantar are a mysterious humanoid species that hates, and hunts, the equally mysterious Arcane. They all wear extremely effective, archaic-looking armor. They have little contact with other species other than to get information on the whereabouts of Arcane merchant vessels and to trade for common supplies. Beyond their hatred of the Arcane, very little is known about the creatures, even what they look like is a complete mystery since their armor atomizes their bodies upon death.

Dohwar (Spelljammer MC2): Dohwar are penguin-like beings with a society structure very reminiscent to a corporation. They are highly intelligent and control most of their sector. While pure commerce is their primary motivation, they are also accomplished in the arts of genetic manipulation as is seen in the creation of the Space Swine. Even then, they largely sell most Space Swine to others rather than use them themselves.

The dohwar are relatively new members of the Galactic Concord. The strength of the Concord Navies was one of the main reasons the dohwar petitioned for admittance. However, they are under constant watch by several Concord members that fought against their inclusion. It’s no secret that if there is profit to be made, dohwar would sell anything to anyone. There are several cases when the dohwar have supplied both sides of a conflict with weaponry in a way to cause a virtual stand-still so that they can keep selling arms to both sides. One thing the dohwar do not trade in, however, is slaves.

Dohwar are available as a PC species.

Elephant Bird (Al-Qadim MC): These large birds are native to the jungles of Jeduun II, and are among the chief dangers of that already dangerous world. They are typical avian hunters with much of the same traits as Terran raptors, but they can super-heat rocks in their gullets that they then drop on to prey to soften them up before swooping in for the kill.

Falmadaraatha “Fal” (Spelljammer MC2): The Fal are slug-like philosophers and researchers from the Navast system. While typically loners, they are members of the Concord, and some are high ranking members as well; the High Justice of Concord’s High Court is a Fal, for instance.

Fal first encountered the Batarians, who killed several members of the species in cold blood. This disastrous introduction into galactic society nearly caused them to withdraw. While they despise the Concord’s use of military force where they feel diplomacy could have been better applied, they still offer their services as diplomats, researchers, and scholars. Several Fal are actual employees working in various fields as independent researchers on their homeworld.

Gossamers (Spelljammer MC2): Gossamers are jellyfish-like creatures that travel through space. They are unique in that they are the only known living species that can naturally enter into drillspace to travel between system (though they cannot access the Elder Relays). They are a source of wonder and terror. Being able to travel at capital ship speeds, they feed on minerals and metals, and find starships to be an excellent source of sustenance. Even though the Galactic Concord’s Science Division has placed order among all members to contact the Concord in hopes of being able to study the creatures, most systems, and especially space stations, will shoot first and then contact the Concord later (if at all). Interestingly, the Gossamers must have been in existence when the Elder Relays were built. If a gossamer gets close to an Elder Relay, the relay sends out an energy pulse that drives the creatures away.

Gravs (Spelljammer MC2): Gravs are actually two sub-species. There are miners and elites. The miners are the laborers that lead difficult lives of toil, while the elites are those that hold power and control all aspects of miner lives. A fact that has kept the Gravs from being accepted into the Galactic Concord, as all members of the Council consider the societal arrange to that of slavery, which the elites vehemently deny.

Gravs main source of income is from mining operations, which they are very adept at. Miners work the mines, but are otherwise well-cared for by the elites. If a miner should question the status quo, they are sent back to the homeworld, a grave insult to miners who see their status as being higher the further away from the homeworld that they are.

On the issue of slavery, the Elites insist that they care for the miners with the utmost dignity, but they are simply too unintelligent to properly govern themselves and cite their history of wars primarily waged by ancient clans that became the miners until the elites stepped in and gave them a purpose. While it is true that many miners are not very intelligent at all, they are still self-aware and work for the glory of their masters, which goes directly against the founding tenants of the Concord.

Grell (Spelljammer MC2): Grell are a strange alien species that look like floating brains with avian-like beaks and dangling tentacles. They are a psionic and sentient species that is hostile to all other species. They have wiped out several colonies of differing species throughout the galactic frontier.

Little is known about the Grell other than they are violent and destructive. All contact with the Grell has resulted in combat. This has led many stellar governments to issue orders to attack on sight. Where the grell hail is a mystery. It is possible that the more space is charted all that will be found are the ruins of the cultures that have been decimated by the grell.

Gromman (Spelljammer MC1): The Gromman are a short, intelligent, simian species. They control several systems in the Carroway Sector, though they have only recently discovered the Elder Relay in their sector.

First contact between the Gromman and the Concord has been fruitful, and it is hoped that their inclusion into the Concord will quickly be approved.

Gromman are available as a PC species.

There is a lot more where these came from, but they'll have to come later.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Classic Comics

A while ago I discovered the Digital Comics Museum, a website that offers classic public domain comics free to download (though you do need to register with the site). I don't remember exactly how I found out about the site, but it was likely through one of the many blogs I follow. I've been downloading a lot of great comics the last few nights, focusing primarily on sci-fi comics. They've got a very wide variety though from super heroes (they have a great collection of classic Phantom Lady and Captain Marvel books), to horror, to westerns, to young kids titles, to even romance. They don't discriminate either, there are a couple issues of comics out there that would be considered blatantly offensive today, usually titles centered out black characters focusing on the stereotypes of the day.

I've some to the realization that I rather like digital comics. I don't have the space to store a ton of comics anymore, and especially with older comics all they are doing are slowly deteriorating, no matter what you do to protect them. I can store far more comics on my computer, comics that as long as I keep everything backed up will always be there. That's why I'm glad to see more comics publishers putting out electronic editions of their books alongside the print editions in many cases. Now, as is the case with ebooks in general the pricing is still in a state of flux as the publishers try to figure out what's the high end of what we consumers will pay (just a hint, full print price for an e-edition is not OK with me), but I expect it will level out in the near future.

Marvel has done a great job so far of offering up digital comics with their service. While I'm annoyed sometimes with the gaps in some series, and even more annoyed when a gap is in the middle of a storyline, they're doing a good job of putting out a lot of great books at a reasonable monthly price. Last I check DC wasn't doing anything on the scope that Marvel is, but I'm sure they will in time. Marvel has also released several collections on DVD. I've picked up the X-Men, Ghost Rider, and Fantastic Four disks. My only beef with these disk sets is that they don't add in the issues of other titles in a crossover storyline, so you end up missing parts of some stories (even moreso with the crossover crazy atmosphere surrounding Marvel and DC these days).

The digitizing of comics is great from a historical standpoint as well. Browsing through the Digital Comics Museum, I'm saddened to see how many issues of these series are missing or are incomplete (sometimes only missing a page or two, other times mroe than half an issue is missing). Hopefully the missing issues will be found and digitized in time, but there's a good possibility that a lot of these comics are simply gone, never to be seen again. It's no great cultural tragedy, but comics, like most media, is a snapshot of time. It shows what we were interested in, what the big fears and hopes were, and the prevailing styles of the time from art to clothing were like. Reading or watching old media can sometimes give a better perspective on the time period than any history book can get across. That's why I applaud the DCM in their mission of preserving the comics of the past. I also thank those that scour comic shops and libraries looking for these old comics to keep them around. Well done.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Praise for Rogue Space

When I was trying to decide on what system to build my campaign setting on, one of the systems that gave SWN a heavy run for its money was Rogue Space. (Check it out here.) Written by Christopher Brandon, Rogue Space is a 64 page rules-light Sci-Fi RPG. It’s got a simple, elegant design that is quick to run and fun to play.

Characters have 5 stats (Fighting, Acquiring, Scientific, Empathy, and Repairing) that can range from 1 to 6 in value. These values can be randomly generated or assigned from a pool of points. Stats with a value of 1 levy a penalty to rolls made dealing with that stat, while stats of 4-6 grant bonuses. Characters then choose one of three archetypes (Warrior, Rogue, or Technician) that applies a bonus to a stat and determines the character’s hit points. Characters then roll hit points and have a Movement rate as well. The final part of the character sheet (other than buying equipment) is Luck. This is essentially a standard re-roll pool seen in a lot of modern rpg’s these days. The entire character sheet can easily be written out on a 3x5 index card.

The dice mechanic is a fairly standard 2d6 system. Roll 2d6, add in any relevant modifiers from stats, gear, environmental effects, etc. against a target number (TN) set by the GM; the higher the TN, the tougher the task. Simple and straight-forward.

Alien races are available for play, though only one example is given: Elfaar, a Vulcan equivalent. Guidelines for creating playable aliens are given. To help balance aliens with humans, they are only allowed one or two possible archetypes out of the three to choose from and if the species is one that is space-faring on their own that selection or one of the two must be Technician. There are also rules for playing an android as well.

Next up are Psionics. Psionics in Rogue Space feel limited in scope compared to other sci-fi games, but when many examples of Psionics in TV and literature sport psionics used as “Empaths” or “Telepaths” or “Telekinetics” without a lot of wild and wondrous powers at the disposal of the psion, this take on psionics fits the genre better than many other systems. Psions in Rogue Space (called “Psykers”) are available to any character of any archetype with an Empathy score of 2 or better. A Psyker can use his/her power repeatedly until they fail a usage check. The Powers descriptions are kept fairly vague allowing a psyker player to find ingenious ways to use their power, so while a psyker will only have the one power the effectiveness is largely up to the imagination of the player. The player will describe how he/she wants to use the power and the GM will assign a difficulty target number that the player will have to roll equal to or above to successfully use the power.

Weapons deal a certain amount of damage based on their damage type. These damage types range from Light to Extra Heavy. Armors are also rated the same way. This lets the player know what dice to roll for damage and how much damage soak to roll for armor. If an attack hits, damage is rolled. Then the defending character or NPC rolls his/her damage dice to see how much damage was absorbed/reflected by the armor. Whatever isn’t blocked by the armor is damage subtracted from the attacked character’s hit points. Once again, simple and effective, though some may not like rolling to see how much damage is blocked by armor seeing it as extra rolling, but to each his own.

The Alien Life Forms chapter goes into the creation of aliens for the Rogue Space system. There is a section to randomly generate the appearance, wardrobe, and culture of humanoid aliens. A section about Humanoid Alien reactions, and then a section about how to round out the stats for NPC aliens follows. The next part goes into the creation of Android and robot NPC’s.

Next, there is a Solo Adventure that offers up some example characters and walks the player through a pick-a-path style of adventure highlighting various parts of the Rogue Space rules. The adventure is alright for what it is, but I feel that space could have been better used to offer more gear, alien examples, robot examples and so on.

Starship rules follow the feel of the character rules: simple and effective. Starships have five stats (Structure, Howitzers, Interior, Propulsion, and Shields) that are represented by a percentage. Structure is essentially the hit points of a ship. Damage will reduce the percentage to the point where the ship is destroyed. A structure of 10% means that the ship is down to only being able to run life support and nothing else, for instance. The structure will always be 100% to start with. The rest of the ship stat percentages must equal to 100%. More of a percentage put into Howitzers over Propulsion means that the ship is more heavily armed, but slow. Every stat other than Howitzers must have at least 10% applied to it. Starship weapons follow the same rules as character weapons with damage ratings Light to Extra Heavy. There are a selection of pre-generated ships and weapons for the GM’s to use to create their own starships. My one complaint on building starships, is that it feels largely arbitrary. There are no rules on how to get the ship details lined out in any area other than in weapons and shields.

An optional rule provided details ship quirks. These are things like A.I. bugs, infamous reputations, haunted, rowdy crews, etc. that can add a little more spice or flair to a starship.

Starship combat works much like character combat. Initiative is rolled, ships are moved into position, weapons are fired, shields are rolled to soak damage, and damage is applied. The more damage a ship takes, the more it’s structure is decreased.

The Role of the Referee chapter goes into information for the GM on how to use the rules, hints on creating atmosphere, and other general points on how to run a game of Rogue Space. Nothing really special here that hasn’t been hashed out a hundred times before, but I still feel is critical to be part of any rulebook.

The Sci-Fi Setting chapter gives a brief overview of various sci-fi sub-genres and includes some examples to draw inspiration from.

The Sector Creator chapter is a well-done set of charts that allows a GM to quickly generate a star sector complete with star systems and possible plot hooks to build adventures around. It’s not as detailed as SWN, but it fits the general lighter feel of the rules in general.

Pirates & Peril is a brief example setting of an alternate history/planetary romance setting using the Rogue Space rules. The Horror of the Robota Lords is a sample adventure using this setting. For a 4 page setting, it’s pretty interesting. Not necessarily what I’d want to run, but I would gladly make a character to play it.

The art throughout the book is a collection of public domain pieces and original work and evokes a feeling of 1940’s-50’s pulp sci-fi. Christopher Brandon has stated that the art evoked a feel that he wasn’t exactly looking for wanting the system to be more all-encompassing sci-fi rather than just a classic pulp feel. He is currently working on a new version of the rules that adds material and has new artwork by his very talented wife, Valerie Brandon (who provides the original pieces of art in the rulebook).

On the Rogue Space blog, there are links to other blogs that offer up various rules expansions ranging from conversions of the Star Drive setting from TSR, to Mass Effect rules, to a rather well done expansion adding Mecha rules to Rogue Space. There is also a couple issues out of “Rogue Transmissions,” a magazine put out with information gleaned from various fan submissions that further expand the system.

I really like Rogue Space. The only way it lost out to SWN is the system familiarity, the ability to quickly and easily draw on my library of D&D sources for material, and a much better defined starship creation system. Even though I’m devoting my sci-fi attentions to SWN, I anxiously await the next edition of the Rogue Space rules. If starship creation is better fleshed out, I could see myself really having a tough decision on what I’ll want to use for sci-fi gaming. Do yourself a favor and check out Rogue Space, it’s a great indie rpg that’s well worth the support of sci-fi roleplayers. I personally have bought both a printed edition and the pdf!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Four More Mass Effect Foes for Stars Without Number

These four creatures wrap up my series on Mass effect foes for my SWN hack.

Once again, the descriptions are lifted from the excellent Mass Effect Wiki.


AC 14
HD 5
AB +7
Dmg 1d8 + Special energy blast or 1d8 claws
Skill +2
Group 1d6
Save 13+
Move 40’, Leap 50’
Morale 10

Adjutants are a terror created by the terrorist organization known as Cerberus based seemingly on technology gathered somehow from the Nano-Terrors or Collectors.

Adjutants are deadly pack hunters. They initially remain hidden, observing potential victims and distracting them with subtle whispers. When they select a target, adjutants ambush them with charged projectiles that cause severe disorientation and render the target helpless. Enhanced muscle tissue gives adjutants the ability to leap surprising distances, allowing them to close in and infect their target quickly via nano-injectors in their claws.

Any living humanoid that takes damage from an adjutant claw attack must make a Physical Effect save with a -4 penalty to the roll due to the sheer effectiveness of the nanites to overpower the victim’s systems. Failure results in extreme pain that causes the victim to crumple and writhe in agony as their genetic structure is totally re-written. This process takes at least an hour to complete, but once it has begun, there is nothing that can be done for the victim other than grant them death before the process completes. Adjutants can choose whether or not to release the nanites with their attacks, usually dependent on what their Cerberus masters decide.

Adjutant energy blasts not only cause damage, but forces the victim to make a Physical Effect save or become paralyzed for 1d3 rounds as their muscles seize up.

Adjutants have access to the Stealth skill.


AC 15
HD 4
AB +4
Dmg 2d8 fire breath
Group 1d4+2
Save 13+
Move 20’
Morale 9

Klixen are a species of crab-like insectoids from the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka, but the Krogan and xeno-merchants have caused them to be transplanted to other worlds as well. They are large, standing around 8 feet tall with a diameter of about 10 feet. Their shells are tough, but quickly become brittle once the creature is slain.

Klixen move slowly. Even though they sport nasty looking pinchers, they only use their fire breath (range of 15’) to bring foes down and then tear apart the fallen prey afterwards. They attack en masse and seek to overwhelm foes. Once slain, the chemical sacks in their bodies explode, dealing 3d6 damage to all within 10’ of the slain Klixen. Klixen themselves take only half damage from fire attacks.

If one can freeze a Klixen before it dies, and therefore explodes, the meat to be gained from such a creature is known to be very delicious and can be sold for a premium in many starports throughout the Concord and even the Krogan DMZ.

Thresher Maw

AC 20
HD 17
AB +17/+17
Dmg 5d12 bite or 3d6 acid spit or Special
Group 1
Save 7+
Move 50’ br.
Morale 12

Thresher maws are subterranean carnivores that spend their entire lives eating or searching for something to eat. Threshers reproduce via spores that lie dormant for millennia, yet are robust enough to survive prolonged periods in deep space and atmospheric re-entry. As a result, thresher spores appear on many worlds, spread by previous generations of space travelers.

The body of a thresher never entirely leaves the ground; only the head and tentacles erupt from the earth to attack. In addition to physical attacks, threshers have the ability to project toxic chemicals and emit bursts of infrasound as a shockwave weapon.

The sonic shockwave attack can be made once every 5 rounds. It does 2d6 damage to anyone within 50’ of the Thresher Maw, and those affected must make a Physical Effect save or be dazed for 1d4 rounds. Ear plugs or other protection negates both the damage and the dazing effect.

Thresher Maws are so massive that they are considered to have 5 points of armor against non-heavy weapon attacks.


AC 13
HD 4
AB +4
Dmg 1d8 (bite)
Group 1d6
Save 13+
Move 40’
Morale 9

Varren are omnivores with a preference for living prey. Originally native to the krogan homeworld of Tuchanka, they are, like most life from Tuchanka, savage, clannish, and consummate survivors. They are pack hunters when vulnerable prey is readily available and become scavengers when outnumbered or outclassed.

Their supreme adaptability, vicious demeanor, and rapid breeding cycle have made them ubiquitous and dangerous pests on many worlds. Virtually everywhere the krogan have been, varren infestations have followed, wreaking havoc with the native ecology.

The krogan have had a love-hate relationship with varren for millennia, alternately fighting them for territory and embracing them as treasured companions. To this day, krogan raise them as beasts of war. A common subgenus of varren has metallic silver scales, leading to the rather unusual nickname 'fishdogs'.

I hope you enjoyed these creatures and find a use for them in your games. Up next will be more background information on the setting and possibly a look at another Sci-Fi Rpg that I've really come to like: Rogue Space.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Geth forces for Stars Without Number

The artifical intelligence collective known as the Geth is next up in this series of Mass Effect creatures and units for use with Stars Without Number. The history of the Geth is largely unchanged from the video games.

Once again, much of the text is swiped from the Mass Effect Wiki.

The geth ("Servant of the People" in Khelish, the language of the Quarians) are a race of networked artificial intelligences that reside beyond the Perseus Veil. The geth were created by the quarians, as laborers and tools of war. When the geth became sentient and began to question their masters, the quarians attempted to exterminate them. The geth won the resulting war, and reduced the quarians to a race of nomads.

The history of the geth's creation and evolution serves as a warning to the rest of the galaxy of the potential dangers of artificial intelligence and to the legally enforced, systematic repression of artificial intelligences throughout galactic society.

Physically, the humanoid geth resemble quarians—their hands, head shape and legs are similar—which is probably a holdover from their origins. A common design feature among geth is a single brightly glowing photoreceptor, causing some to refer to them as "flashlight heads". Geth are primarily composed of two materials: a flexible but durable outer shell, and a kind of synthetic muscle tissue that gives Geth Hoppers their incredible agility. It is actually very similar to the synthetic muscles that are standard in most cybernetic limbs used throughout the known galaxy. Geth "bleed" a white conductive fluid when shot, but they don't have any internal organs or nervous system, so the geth do not feel hunger or pain. Some geth facilities contain first-aid kits, implying that their synthetic "tissues" can be repaired using conventional medical technology.

Part of the geth's success is due to their neural network. Effectively, they "share" their processing power, distributing low-level processes like motor control and visual identification to free up bandwidth for higher reasoning and complex thought. Geth can't share sensory data—they aren't a hive mind like the rachni—but in large groups they have more to think with. An individual geth has only a basic intelligence on par with animal instincts, but in groups they can reason, analyze situations, and make tactical decisions as well as any of the organic races. However, the Geth have created units with over 11 times as many geth programs as a standard geth platform that can function intellectually on their own for reconnaissance and espionage missions, though these geth units are exceedingly rare.

Each geth is made up of hundreds of programs equivalent to VIs, all operating in parallel with one another to form a kind of emergent intelligence described as "a thousand voices talking at once". An individual geth is thus more of a "mobile platform" than an actual body; the programs that make up its consciousness are constantly being transferred and downloaded; the mind operating one of these "mobile platforms" might just as easily inhabit a starship body should it need to. Most of the time geth programs can be found residing in server hubs, which function as something akin to the organic equivalent of a city, and can run millions of geth in communion.

As all geth are networked to each other, they may communicate their exact thoughts and ideas at the speed of light. They find organic methods of communication, such as body language and spoken word, to be largely inefficient; the geth are able to communicate their thoughts flawlessly without any fear of misinterpretation. Because of this they have no true form of government and no system of rank. When a matter must be decided upon, the geth communicate all viewpoints of a situation and a consensus is made, the decision being whatever benefits the geth as a whole the greatest.

Over time, the geth have evolved into numerous sub-forms, ranging from the diminutive but highly agile Geth Hoppers, to the gigantic, lumbering Geth Armatures. The geth also utilize turrets and drones (rocket, assault, recon and repair drones, specifically). It isn't clear whether these are also AIs, in the same way Geth Armatures are not just tanks but platforms for geth programs themselves, or simply controlled by the geth.

Geth Trooper

AC 13
HD 3
AB +5
Dmg 2d8 (pulse rifle)
Skill +2
Group 1d6
Save 14+
Move 30’
Morale 9

These are the standard Geth platforms that most people think of when hearing about Geth. They are equipped with pulse rifles and personal shields (5). If they take no actions during 1 round, geth troopers can instantly recharge their shields to full capacity. Most are armed with pulse rifles, but some also take to high ground with mag rifles to snipe at targets.

Geth Troopers are skilled in Computers, Stealth, and Tech (robotics).

Geth Armature

AC 18
HD 10
AB +12
Dmg 3d6 (heavy pulse guns) or 4d8 (siege cannon)
Group 1
Save 10+
Move 20’
Morale 12

Geth Armatures are anti-personnel light walkers armed with heavy pulse rifles and a siege cannon. Siege cannons can only be fired once every 5 rounds. Against non-heavy weaponry, geth armatures are considered to have Armor 6. They are also equipped with Personal Shields (7).

Geth Colossus
AC 20
HD 15
AB +17
Dmg 3d6 heavy pulse guns) or 5d10 (heavy siege cannon)
Group 1
Save 8+
Move 20’
Morale 12

Geth Colossi are heavy walkers armed with heavy pulse guns and a devastating heavy siege cannon. Siege cannons can only be fired once every 5 rounds. Against non-heavy weaponry, geth colossi are considered to have Armor 8. They are also equipped with Personal Shields (9).

Geth Destroyer
AC 15
HD 6
AB +8
Dmg 3d8 (spike thrower) or 3d10 (rocket launcher) or 2d8 (plasma projector)
Group 1d2+1
Save 12+
Move 30’
Morale 10

Geth Destroyers are close combat units that are equipped with Personal Shields (6). They will wield either spike throwers, rocket launchers, or plasma projectors.

Geth Hopper

AC 13
HD 3
AB +5
Dmg 2d8+2 (mag rifle)
Skill +2
Group 1d3
Save 14+
Move 30’, 20’ leap, 20’ wall-crawl
Morale 8

Geth Hoppers are infiltration, espionage, and sniper units. They can leap up to 20’ and are capable of clinging even to shear surfaces. They are equipped with a shoulder-mounted mag rifle. Hoppers are also proficient in Computers and Stealth, allowing them to slip into enemy installations and take out automated defenses or to perform other acts of cyberwarfare. Geth Hoppers are also equipped with sensor jamming equipment that affects motion sensors, EMP detectors, and radio communication.

Geth Hunter

AC 14
HD 5
AB +7
Dmg 3d8 (spike thrower)
Skill +2
Group 1d3
Save 13+
Move 30’
Morale 10

Geth Hunters are close combat and infiltration units. They wield spike throwers, and have Personal Shields (6). Hunters are also equipped with personal cloaking devices. It doesn’t make them completely invisible, but only a faint shimmering outline is noticeable. This grants them a +3 bonus to Stealth checks, plus any enemies using ranged attacks against a cloaked hunter do so with a -3 penalty. In order to even recognize that a Hunter is incoming an enemy must make a successful Luck save. Once a cloaked Hunter has taken damage or has attacked, the cloaking is shut off and the hunter can be seen plainly.

Geth Juggernaut
AC 16
HD 7
AB +9
Dmg 3d6 (heavy pulse rifle) or 3d10 (rocket launcher)
Group 1d2
Save 12+
Move 30’
Morale 10

Similar to Destroyers, Juggernauts are powerful geth units armed with heavy pulse rifles with rocket launching attachments. They are typically equipped with 3 rockets, but some may carry more. They have Personal Shields (8).

Geth Prime

AC 18
HD 12
AB +14
Dmg 3d6 (heavy pulse rifle) or 3d10 (rocket launcher)
Group 1
Save 9+
Move 30’
Morale 12

Geth Primes are command units. They are armed with heavy pulse rifles with rocket launching attachments. Most Primes carry 5 rockets, but some with carry more. They have Personal Shields (10) and are capable of jamming detection devices and radio comms like Hoppers. Plus, Primes coordinate the attacks of other geth within 80’, granting them a +2 attack bonus while they are within range.

Next up is the final entry into the Mass Effect games (unless I decide to go ahead a do an entry on Cerberus forces) covering random creatures like Thresher Maws and Varren.