Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spineless Ones (NOW WITH STATS)

On the far side of the Romulan Empire's sphere of influence is an area of space known as "the Mojoverse." This region of space is dominated by an empire that gains its power and wealth via the transmission of ultra-violent gladiatorial games. These games are put up on the Grid through various means for beings throughout the Alpha Quadrant to purchase and watch. This makes the Mojoverse the only known empire based solely upon entertainment.

The Mojoverse is controlled by a species of beings known as the Yllonjakk, or Spineless Ones as they are more commonly referred to. They are a somewhat slug-like species slightly reminiscent to Hutts, with large, portly bodies, two arms and a head. They can only move through the use of cybernetic implant legs, or cybernetic barges typically equipped with arachnid-like legs. Their flesh is yellow and typically pock-marked and dotted with bed sores. Their arms are long, as are their fingers, and their faces are rather humanoid-like except their mouths are unnaturally wide.

The Spineless Ones were first discovered by one of their now slave races, the Brannor. The Yllonjakk were primitive, yet obviously intelligent beings eking out an existence in the swamps and quagmires of their homeworld, which is now called Mojo Prime, but was once known as Yllonj. Brannor scientists designed their cybernetic legs and sleds that the Spineless Ones now use in the hopes of helping to "uplift" these beings into a technological species. The Brannor succeeded, much to their dismay. The Spineless Ones are also telepathic, something that they concealed from the Brannor, and they learn very quickly. Once they were as mobile as the Brannor, they moved quickly to subvert and dominate their culture, making slaves of the very people that helped them.

During the telepathic scans of Brannor minds, many Spineless Ones became enthralled with video and holographic entertainment. Many became addicted to entertainment technology, watching all the shows, sports, and broadcasts that they could. Others made note of how much commerce vids, especially more violent vids, brought in and the effect the events had on those watching. Not long after forcing the Brannor into slavery, the Spineless Ones began to force them into gladiatorial matches for the amusement of those Spineless Ones that needed that entertainment. It didn't take long for the Spineless Ones to expand their influence into other systems. Those that could put up a good fight were left alone, though they offered their arenas as a source of entertainment as a way of trade. Other species, like the Valco, were dominated and forced into slavery to fight in their arenas.

The Spineless Ones elected a leader, called Mojo, which they also call anything of importance. Their entire system of government is almost like it was taken from the chain of command of a 21st century TV station. Mojo is President of Operations, then there are program directors that oversee the running of popular series. Directors oversee individual series. Cancellators are enforcers, usually made up of mercenaries of slaves that have proven their loyalty, that quell riots among the actors: slaves.

Once one gets past the appearance of a Spineless One, the first thing most beings notice is that none of them are quite altogether sane. Many Spineless Ones are jittery, prone to fits of rage with little to no provocation, others are paranoid or outright schizophrenic, but all exhibit some form of mental instability. Spineless Ones recognize that this makes dealing with other species problematic, so oftentimes when other species are dealing with a Mojoverse representative, they are dealing with a Major Domo, a trusted Brannor or Valco slave.

Today, the Mojoverse is the most influential force in gladiatorial games in the galaxy. Even though their "products" are outlawed in most civilized societies, there is a robust black market for their goods. They have become more and more inventive with how they stage their matches thanks to holodeck technology. Popular fighters are followed along and "star" in series of death matches that are set up to look like various shows from all over the galaxy. This has made the Mojoverse a very powerful force in their sector of space, which makes neighbors like the Romulan Empire and the Hutt Syndicate very nervous. The Romulans despise another stellar super power at their virtual back door, and the Hutts don't like the Spineless Ones muscling in on their gambling revenue.

The Mojo keeps a tight reign on operations in the Mojoverse. There has always been a contingent of rebels among the slaves since the Brannor were first enslaved. As the Mojoverse has connected with many other cultures, mostly through Gridspace, so have the rebels. They have found allies in the galaxy willing to help them fight the Spineless Ones, even secretly. This has helped make the rebellion more effective at striking against the Spineless Ones, strikes that have disrupted operations on several occasions and publicly so. Mojo XVII can expanded the ranks of the Cancellators to help put down the rebellion, but the disruptions keep occurring.

There have also been some startling revelations as to how far the Spineless Ones will go to feed their and their audiences' need for even greater thrills. There has been evidence uncovered that Spineless Ones have kidnapped Concord soldiers and replaced their eyes with nearly undetectable cybernetic cameras with transmitters that film the battles and events they take part in. While many in the Concord fear spying, it appears that the primary goal is to get footage of combat against hostile forces. The Spineless Ones typically hire mercenaries and pirates to carry out the abductions, but the Concord Navy has also put their troops going on shore leave on alert to watch out their drinks and not to trust "captivating" strangers. It seems that some of the abductions and implants have been done in just a matter of hours before anyone would think something is amiss.

Spineless Ones for Savage Worlds
Spineless Ones (WC) Attributes: Agility d4/d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigor d10
Skills: Fighting d6, Computers d10, Knowledge (Cybernetics) d10, Knowledge (Holographics) d10, Knowledge (Psychology) d8, Pilot d8, Psionics d10
Pace 2/10; Parry 5; Toughness 7 (12)
Gear: Spineless Ones rarely carry any gear beyond a datapad with which they keep constant tabs on show ratings and other areas of vid production. Their cyber sleds are outfitted with everything else they need to be lethal.
Cyber Sleds: Spineless One cyber sleds grant them an increase in Agility (to d8) and Pace (to 10). It also adds enough coverage to grant them Armor +3 to Toughness. Their sleds come in various forms, but the most common is a walker with arachnid-like legs and a "tail" that looks like a scorpion's stinger that is equipped with a Plasma Rifle (3d10 damage). They use their Pilot skill die for their attempts to shoot foes. Attacks on the sled must bypass Toughness 18 (3) in order to cause any damage.
Special Abilities
Claws: Str + d6 damage with their long, needle-like claws.
Psionics: Spineless Ones have the following powers: Blast (Force), Mind Reading, and Telekinesis.
Size +2
Large Sized: Spineless Ones are quite large and attackers gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls against them.

Spineless Ones for Rogue Space
DRM +2; TP K; SZ RB; MV Crawl (10') or Arachnid (40'); AR M; DM X; HP 5; SP *
Cyber Sled: Cyber Sleds have 5 HP and V AR.
Psionics: Spineless Ones are all Telepathic and gain an Empathy bonus of +3.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Damn that Diablo!

I'm still alive and kicking, I just got (re)bitten by the Diablo 3 bug again this weekend. Plus, I've also been working on moving my wiki over to here. Wikia has better, more intuitive tools for building a wiki, but Obsidian Portal (where I had actually forgot that I had an account and that they have campaign wiki tools as well) is sharper and, well, it's designed with RPG's in mind. I'm still in the middle of the move, so there's not much over there yet, but there will be in the next few days.

On the Mythic Space front, I've got a couple of articles that need a little touching up and finishing, but that are close to ready. They are both Threats of the Galaxy articles. One detailing the Aboleth and one detailing the Sathar. So there's something to look forward to as the week progresses.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yautja: Hunters of Space

The Yautja (pronounced ee-wat-ya) are a reptilian humanoid species of hunters that traverse the cosmos in search of ever greater challenges on their hunts. They are a reclusive and secretive species that has had little contact with other intelligent species.

The Yautja are technologically advanced, or at least they were considered to be during early encounters with Earthlings in the early to mid 21st century. However, their level of technology hasn't advanced any farther from those early meetings. It is unclear whether the species is unable or simply has no desire to advance their tech further. Nearly all their tech, excluding their starships, is related to hunting. They are walking armories, ready and able to take on any threat that comes their way. They are typically equipped with a shoulder-mounted laser cannon, an extendable spear, long retractable wrist blades, several bladed disc weapons, and personal cloaking tech. All Yautja hunters have a small thermo-nuclear device implanted in their armor. Should they become captured or are about to die, they activate the detonation sequence to wipe out all evidence of them having being on the planet.

Very little is known about their culture as they have had sparse dealings with other species, but what is known is that "The Hunt" is central to their culture and religion. They hunt not for food or the elimination of threats, but for entertainment and to prove their worth to their clans. While on a hunt, the Yautja adhere to a strict code of honor that guide how they are to hunt, how kills are to be taken, and when it is appropriate to take a trophy from a kill. The helmets that they wear record their hunts, and are judged by the elders of their clans. Those that hunt with dishonor can face anything from the loss of trophies to extermination depending on the severity of the infraction.

Their culture is broken down in to castes. The lowest caste is the Unblooded, those that are either too young to go on hunts or those that have yet to take their first honorable kill. The Blooded make up the majority of the male Yautja. These are yautja that have made at least one honorable kill, but have not earned enough honor to be considered Elite. Blooded Yautja are allowed access to more advanced weaponry like the shoulder cannons that are denied Unblooded. Elites are those that have earned great honors on the hunt by taking down the most dangerous prey. Elites tend to specialize in a certain weapon or weapon group. Retirees are Yautja that are too old and sufficiently honored to hunt. Very few ever reach this stage in life. Clan Leaders are Yautja that lead the hunts off-world and are always Elites. Clan Leaders are appointed to their roles by the Adjudicators. Adjudicators are the ruling class of Yautja society. They see to the enforcement of their laws and to the training of young and Unblooded yautja. Bad Bloods are yautja that are criminals or those that have lost all honor. These yautja are typically banished from the homeworld to fend for themselves.

Female Yautja are not allowed to partake in the hunt. Their role is an elevated one in their society, however. Females always rank higher than the Blooded. It is they that tend to children and keep their society moving on their homeworld. Females also advise the adjudicators in homeworld matters and even give their opinions on footage of hunts.

Apprentices are the rarest caste of Yautja. These are non-Yautja that have earned the respect of a Clan Leader and have been allowed to travel among them and learn their ways. It is assumed that apprentices can gain honor like any Yautja and even become elevated to the rank of Clan Leader, but no such occurrence has ever been recorded.

Yautja hail from a planet called Yautja Prime. The location of this world, the system it is in, or even the sector of space is unknown, but it is believed to lie somewhere coreward in the Alpha Quadrant. What is know about Yautja Prime is that it consists of largely two biomes: a hard desert and a dense jungle. The wildlife is said to be very aggressive and dangerous, but such creatures are no longer considered suitable for gaining honor, so the species had to take to the stars to find greater challenges to earn honor. There are vast underground training areas for young yautjas to learn how to hunt and prepare themselves for their first hunts. Beyond that scant information, little else is known about the Yautja homeworld.

Yautjas themselves are  imposing creatures. They are reptilian humanoids that stand anywhere from 7 to 8 feet tall. Their mouths are filled with sharp teeth and are surrounded by arthropod-like mandibles. They are hairless, but their heads grow long, supple spines that look like dreadlocks, plus some Yautja grow smaller spines on their brows and jawline. Their scaly flesh is generally a darker green on their backs and backs of their arms and legs, with lighter colored scales on their chests, abdomens, and inner arms and legs. However, some scales may be lighter or darker in color, be mottled or clear, or appear dry or clammy moist. Females have only been encountered by Apprentices, so there isn't much information on them other than that they are of slighter build with a leaner, sleeker musculature. They are quite strong, and are a very hardy people as well. They have displayed the ability to fight on through intense physical trauma, and have also displayed a great resilience against toxins, disease, and the effects of radiation. Yautja are also adept at mimicking sounds and voices. Their own language being one of clicks, hisses, and growls.

There is evidence that Yautja have hunted on Earth numerous times. Ancient blast points are shown as proof of nuclear detonations of failed hunts long before humans where capable of such tech. Some Yautja ships have also been discovered to house ancient trophies of human skulls and spinal columns that date back hundreds of years. However, there have been no known attacks on human beings or any other intelligent species that has attained space flight. It is assumed that once a species has attained the ability to traverse the stars, they are no longer considered to be an honorable kill for whatever reason. That is not to say that Yautja are above attacking a member of a space-faring species should they interfere with a hunt.

Yautja are reclusive, but they are not xenophobic. They understand that their way of life is seen as barbaric to much of "civilized" space, so they attempt to keep away from other species as much as possible. Occasionally, encounters do occur, and while most end up peaceful enough, there have been skirmishes between Yautja and other species from time to time. They are not officially considered a "threat" species by the Galactic Concord, but they are also not held in high regard either.

The only known group of Yautja to openly associate with other species is a group of Bad Bloods that now operate as mercenaries, and are often in the employ of the Hutt gangster, Ulbro. Even though they have been banished from their kind, they still do not offer up much information about their species or homeworld.

For Savage Worlds, I use the stats found in James Houlahan's Alien Vs Predator savaged setting. This can be found at Savage Heroes. Rogue Space stats are still being worked on and will appear soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Threats of the Galaxy: Xenomorphs

There are few creatures in the galaxy that can conjure more feelings of fear and dread than the xenomorphs. These beings have been a scourge of space explorers and colonists for hundreds of years. While much is known about their hierarchy, reproduction cycle, and abilities they are still largely shrouded in mystery. How does a non-technological species spread so far across the cosmos? Does the existence of the xenomorphs prove the theory of Promethean seeding of the galaxy?

Xenomorphs are a highly predatory species with a very rigid social structure and a complex reproductive cycle. Most encounters with this species start off by finding eggs. These eggs hold the lowest form of xenomorph, the "facehugger." Upon sensing a warm-blooded lifeform, the egg will open and the facehugger will attempt to grasp it's intended victim about the face with its long arms and wrap it's tail around the victim's throat. Facehuggers have been known to attach themselves onto creatures as small as a house cat to as large as an elephant. The one thing that they look for above all else is for warm-blooded mammalian creatures. They have never been recorded attaching to any other form of life.

The facehugger then inserts an organ down the throat of the victim where is lays an embryo in the chest of the victim. Removing a facehugger is no small feat. Like all xenomorphs, its blood is highly acidic, making extraction a very risky avenue. Plus, if the facehugger senses any attempt to remove it, it will tighten its tail grip on the victim's throat. After the implantation of the embryo, the facehugger stays attached for anywhere from 12 hours to up to 3 days. Once it releases the victim, the facehugger typically dies within 5-10 minutes.

The embryo, now known as a "chestburster", quickly matures over the course of a couple days to a week. During this time, the host can largely function normally, although some shortness of breath may be experienced. Scans of a host do not always show the presence of a chestburster, the cause of their ability to mask their appearance in a host is unclear. However, even if it is known that a being is a host for a chestburster, there is little that can be done to extract the parasite. The embryo gestates near the heart of the host, poised to take reflexive action if it perceives an attempt to remove it from the host which can cause serious and often irreparable damage.

Once sufficiently large enough, the chestburster begins to tear it's way through the chest of the host and breaking through the chest, hence the name. The chestburster then quickly runs off and finds a secluded spot to finish it's rapid maturation process. The host typically dies from the birthing process for obvious reasons, but there have been a few cases of exceedingly hardy species surviving the process though they are the extreme rare end of the spectrum.

During the gestation process, the chesburster takes on some aspects of the host. If the host is bipedal, then the chestburster and subsequent drone will be as well. The same goes for quadrupedal species being impregnated with a chestburster. There is also some correlation between the end size of the drone and the size of the host species. While the size variance of the resultant drones is very low, those born from small hosts (around house cat size to that of a small dog) may only end up being 5'5" in height, but those born from larger species may grow to heights close to 7 feet tall. Queens are almost uniformly 15 feet tall.

The transformation from chestburster to drone (also sometimes called workers, warriors, or soldiers) takes about a week. During this time, the being sheds it's outer layers and develops a thick layer of polarized silicon that covers their bodies. Even before reaching maturity, it is highly aggressive and dangerous, but once mature a drone is a veritable killing machine. Even though they are lethal foes, their primary goal is to bring living victims back to the hive to be impregnated by facehuggers allowing them to grow their numbers for even more protection for the hive and their Queen.

Drones have an arsenal of natural weaponry at their disposal. Not only are they strong, stealthy, and highly durable, but their teeth are very sharp and they have a secondary set of teeth that can extend up to two feet from their open mouths. Their long tails end in a blade-like tip. As if this all weren't enough, xenomorphs are also wickedly cunning. There are some researchers that posit that with their ability to understand simple machines that they may also possess a primitive form of sentience. They even understand the lethality of their acid blood, and will use open wounds to fling acid at their foes or sacrifice one of their own to use the acid to burn through barriers.

The final, and primary, rung in the xenomorph hierarchy is the Queen. Queens look much like drones, only much larger and their heads are adorned with large crests and they also have a second set of smaller arms below their primary arms. Queens lay facehugger eggs and are generally stationary in the most protected portion of their hives. However, when in danger, Queens can detach from their termite-like ovipositor "throne" and move freely. New queens are implanted into hosts exactly like drones via facehuggers. How it is determined that an embryo will be a queen or a drone is currently unknown, but it is theorized that the embryo may change from drone to queen based on external stimuli like being taken further from the hive.

Xenomorphs were first encountered by a deep space exploration vessel in the early days of human interstellar expansion. The planet LV-426 was originally scheduled for exploration due to possible highly valuable mineral deposits. Upon landing on the planet, the crew of the Nostromo found alien ruins, including the remains of what we now call the Prometheans. They also found thousands of eggs. One of the eggs hatched and a member of the crew was infected, which in turn lead to all but one member of the crew being slain by the resulting drone. LV-426 was colonized years after the Nostromo's fateful visit. The reports of the xenomorphs were covered up by Voidcorp, which was backing the colony. In the court case brought forth by the family members of the colonists slain on LV-426, evidence was presented that Voidcorp was hoping to capture one or more of the creatures in hopes of weaponizing them. LV-426, now commonly known as "Xenoland" or "Planet Zero" is an interdicted world constantly patrolled by the Concord Navy to ensure that no one lands on the planet.

Since the first encounter with the Xenomorphs, other encounters have been discovered in the records of many Concord species and species the Concord has been in contact with. This only deepens the mystery surrounding these beings. First is how long can xenomorph eggs stay viable? The crew of the Nostromo estimated the Promethean ruins to be at least 20,000 years old, and the corpse of the Promethean to be not much younger than that. It is known that Queens and Drones will die without a food source after a time, but it appears that facehugger eggs can stay viable (or at least a certain number of them) for possibly centuries if not longer. They appear to sit in a state of suspended animation until a suitable host comes along.

The second mystery is how a species can show up throughout the galaxy and not be an intelligent, space-faring species. Early theories posited that the xenomorphs were once space-farers themselves and we are now encountering the degenerate offspring of those beings, but that theory has been largely rejected. Many times xenomorphs are encountered in and around Promethean ruins. Did the Prometheans create these beings? For what purpose? Creating a species that lives only to propagate and kill seems counter to the standard vision of these beings as being seeders of life in the galaxy (if the most populist theory about them is taken as gospel). Maybe the Prometheans went too far in their genetic experiments? Could it be possible that they engineered their own demise?

To date, the Concord has closed off access to 17 planets throughout Concord space because of xenomorph activity. Xenobiologists studying xenomorphs know of 60 other planets that either have active hives or were destroyed due to xenomorph infestations outside Concord space as well. These other worlds are spread throughout known space in each quadrant of the galaxy.

For Savage Worlds I use James Houlahan's Alien Vs Predator guide which can be found here. Rogue Space has stats for hatchlings (facehuggers) and drones. For Queens, simply up the stats for Drones to the desired amount.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

What a week...

First off, sorry for the silence here over the last few days. I spent a little time in the hospital after my appendix decided it wanted nothing to do with the rest of me anymore. (No worries, caught it in time and I was only in the hospital for a day, but I've been home convalescing the last couple of days and I'm just now able to sit upright long enough to type out a post.) I'm not promising anything, but I should be back in the saddle before long. (It's still a bit uncomfortable to sit here for very long.)

I do have a bit of news on the Mythic Space setting. I'm going to start posting some past articles from this blog into a wiki to help me keep all this a bit better organized. The wiki can be found here. New stuff will still get posted here first, but there will likely be some background setting updates made on the wiki that weren't seen here first.