Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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.

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