Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Aliens of the Festrian Froniter: The Squill

Or:

CUTTLEFISH IIIIIN SPAAAAAAAACE!!!

EDIT: I'll want to determine a homeworld for these guys: ideally, one of those odd worlds that somehow roll an 11 or 12 for HYD, which I generally take to mean "Exotic Oceans."

THE SQUILLISH

Physical Description: Evolved from an undersea predator on their homeworld, Adults range in size between 4-6’ tall as farmers or builders, 5-8’ tall as warriors, and 4-5 feet tall as pilots or planners. Their bodies are perhaps a third of their mass, and are tender and pulpy: the next two thirds are tentacles, of which three are heavy, leathery load-bearing pods allowing upright walking out of liquid, and the remaining are a mass of specialized feelers and holders. They have two side-placed eyes, and a mouth set amidst the tentacles. They are able to produce a carapace by means of natural secretion, which covers most of their body and can be modified to a large extent. This is multicolored and patterned, and is never the same twice, although members of the same school bear similar markings. They have roughly the same lifespan as humans. They have developed the ability to craft their shells into tools of remarkable complexity, ranging from simple cutting implements to hand and throwing weapons, on up to breathing tanks allowing the Squillish to leave their liquid home for extremely long periods. Builders, and all the high caste Squill have such breathing tanks as permanent additions to their shells. Warriors have particularly durable shells, and an array of weapons at their disposal.

Squillish cannot form human words, and vice versa, but Squillish with an education of 11+ can frequently read and write a few words of human language: space transmissions are generally text. “Surrender” or “We Surrender” is generally enough.

RECENT HISTORY
Squillish in general reach tech level 3-6; the major exception being their advance into space. It appears that the Squill have been able to develop rudimentary spacecraft, perhaps reverse-engineered from Old-Empire derelicts or trade ships. Humans were astonished when the first Squillish spacecraft was encountered: A hull made entirely of high-test Squill-shell, with rudimentary controls and primitive rocket drives, built around a jump drive scavenged from a human merchantman. Squill rely on scavenging for anything more advanced than tech 6. The Squillish do occasionally attempt trade, but they often can only obtain the high-tech items they desire through pilferage and piracy. And at this, they have been successful. Squillish homeworld has not been located but it is thought to be at least four parsecs out from the fringe. It is not known how many scattered Squillish colonies have been formed (these are nearly always size 5-7 with atmosphere A and liquid oceans, although some frontier outposts on planetoids have been found)
SQUILLISH CHARACTERS

Statistics: Roll as normal, adding 2 to dexterity and subtracting 1 from strength.

Squillish society is highly deterministic: From hatching, it is known what caste and profession a Squill will be trained for. There is no process of enlistment. Type of Squill is determined by characteristic.

Any Squill of SOC less than 9 is either a farmer or a builder. Builders must have dexterity and education of 10+. All others are farmers.

Squillish of soc. 9+ are either warriors, pilots, planners or tenders.
Warriors must have strength and endurance 8+
Pilots must have dexterity and Education 10+
Planners must have intelligence and education of 10+
All others are tenders.

FARMERS remain under “water” their whole lives, and cannot leave it. In spite of being most numerous, they will seldom be encountered by humans except on Squillish worlds or colonies, unless they are being transported on a Squill colony craft. They harvest and process the plankton-like creatures on which the Squill feed. They will never fight, and always flee. They have no skills beyond farming and food production.

TENDERS, regardless of sex, maintain the Squill eggs until they hatch. Before and after hatching, they nurture the young to determine what their caste will be: those that will be suitable for important roles will be particularly cared for. Their skills are highly specialized in this regard, but all have the equivalent of Medical–2. They will not fight, but will be accompanied by warriors. Squill long-range vessels and pirates will typically have one tender aboard as a medic. Death or injury to the Tender is traumatic to the entire group – regardless of gender they fill a mother - role. They are typically the eldest of any group.

BUILDERS are less common than Farmers, but are more likely to be found by Travellers on Squillish outposts and spacecraft as engineers and technicians. They can manufacture shell-ware tools, generally up to tech level 2, without any assistance with the exception of some more sophisticated tools such as breathing tanks. They are able to manipulate human artifacts well, and can use them at a disadvantage of –3. Once they have modified the artifact to suit Squill physiognomy, they can use it at no disadvantage. Squill builders automatically have Shellcraft –1; Squill builders of Intelligence 8+ also have engineering –1. Roll twice on their specialty table per term: Each term has a survival roll of 5+; Squill maintain their profession lifelong but a roll of 5 – ends the character development process.

1 Shellcraft
2 Shellcraft
3 Mechanical
4 Electronics
5 Computer
6 Engineer

Shellcraft allows the construction or repair of any tool or weapon to tech 2 on an 8+, and specialized items (up to tech 5) on a 13+ Small items tech 2 and less can be made in a few hours: more advanced items take longer, even years.

WARRIORS Fight. They do little else. Their shells are hardened both by natural selection and Builder artifice. They are stronger than other Squill, and are trained in the use of many weapons. While Squill shell is generally as tough as cloth armor, warrior shells are as good as combat armor. Squill warriors are always armed with a customized sword most suitable to their strength: They always get a +2 strength benefit with it, and in other respects it matches the sword in regard to range and armor penetration. In addition, when in close combat, Warriors will attempt to ensnare their opponents with their tentacles, while striking with a dagger (also +2, like the sword) Roll to hit to ensnare: victims will be –2, minus the warrior’s strength mod for any attacks they may attempt, and must attempt to break away (rolling the warrior’s strength or better, +strength mods & brawling skill)

Warriors also use firearms. They prefer modified laser carbines and rifles when they can get them, or modified human firearms. Unmodified weapons can be used at –3. Squill can also produce simple firearms of their own at tech 6.
Warriors automatically have Blade – 1 skill, and get two rolls on their table per term.
Warrior skills: Each term has a survival roll of 7+; Squill maintain their profession lifelong but a roll of 7 - ends the character development process.

1 Brawling
2 Blade
3 Gun
4 Blade
5 Gun
6 Gunnery

PILOTS are the crew of the Squillish corsairs that pepper the Imperial frontier, and spearhead the Squillish drive to gain the technology they desire. They are among the most versatile of the Squillish- they can fight if they must, though they generally leave this to the Warriors.
Pilots automatically have Pilot – 1. They roll twice per term on their table. Warrior skills Each term has a survival roll of 6+; Squill maintain their profession lifelong but a roll of 5 - ends the character development process.

1 Gun
2 Ship’s Boat
3 Gunnery
4 Computer
5 Navigation
6 Pilot

PLANNERS are the brain trust, and any group of Squill will have one. They are always the leaders and the tacticians of the group, and are versatile and wily.
Pilots automatically have Tactics – 1. They roll twice per term on their table. Squill maintain their profession lifelong but a roll of 4 - ends the character development process.
1 Admin
2 Leader
3 Tactics
4 JOT
5 Leader
6 Admin

SQUILLISH CORSAIR:

Squill spacecraft are idiosyncratic, either standard design human ships whose fittings have been modified to their own, and shell-ships; they do not have jump drives, though they have been known to kluge human drives and power plants into their ships. If the M and P plants are human, then all fuel requirements are as normal. The recent capture use of human jump drives has been a huge breakthrough for the Squill, and the few jump ships they have are proving well adapted to their preferred hit-and run tactics.

When a Squillish spacecraft uses native P plants, they are far less efficient than human equivalents, generally requiring twice the fuel of human spacecraft for Jump.

Squillish M drives are simple Hydrogen/oxygen rockets, and must burn large amounts of fuel to produce thrust. As a rule, Squill ships burn 1 ton of fuel for each G*.01M. A 200 ton corsair can then add 1G at a cost of 2 tons of fuel. Minor adjustments in attitude and course can be, and are achieved through venting gas through sub-1G bursts that are difficult to detect and effect no major vector change. Evasion requires full cost in fuel.

Squillish M-drives and power plants are ten times the mass of human drives.
Squillish computers are 4 times the mass of human computers.
Squillish require less space: each requires 2 tons living space, but no double occupancy allowed.

Typical Squillish Corsair Shellship, native design, human jump.

200 tons (varies widely, one-of-a kind ships) streamlined
M-drive A* (1) 10tons
J-drive A (1) 10 tons
P-plant A* (1) 40tons
Fuel for J1, 12 burns 64
Bridge 20 20
Computer Model/1 4
Fire control 2 tons
Hold 50 tons

Crew: 20
Planner
Tender
Pilot/navigator
Builder/Engineer
6 Warriors

two double turrets: 2 missile racks , 2 sandcasters. (max spread each, 6.)
Armaments: Squill have not perfected lasers, and native powerplants are unable to power them efficiently. They will employ them happily on commandeered vessels or those using human drives. On native ships, therefore, and in general, Squill prefer a blend of missiles and sandcasters.

Squillish missiles are continuous burn, proximity fuse radio sensor missiles, with one 6-g burn only. They impact as normal missiles. Like human missile racks, they carry three apiece. Unlike human missile racks, they can all be fired at once. Since they can only hit on the same turn their “burn” occurs they can be used either at point blank range, or can be set to coast, not initiating burn until close to the target.

Squillish sandcasters are notoriously effective. Like squillish missiles, they can all be released at once; unlike human sandcasters they offer a –4 to hit with lasers, and they also tend to obscure missile locks, often detonating missiles similar to ECM (on a 9+, +1 per additional canister of sand.

Squillish hulls are comparable to human ones, except their sensor signature is much lower. Detection ranges are half those stated in Book 2 across the board.
Squillish computer programming is roughly analogous to human. A typical set of programs for a Squill Corsair will be Maneuver, Generate, Jump, Navigate, Auto-evade (unless pilot’s skill is extraordinary, in which case M/E 2 will replace it), Target and Launch. Generally a ship will generate a jump prior to engaging a foe, so that escape can be achieved promptly (if jump is available)

4 Comments:

Blogger KenHR said...

Yowza!

I like!

It's like Kang from the Simpsons...and I mean that in a good way!

2:56 PM  
Blogger MTU: The Festrian Empire said...

Thank you!

It's totally overthought. My next aliens will not be so detailed - but I hope I'll be able to apply some of this sort of thing to it.

Though next, it's going to be a treatment of the Old Empire worlds: More of a culture study regarding their attitude towards the Festrian Imperium.

5:52 PM  
Blogger KenHR said...

Details = good! I don't think you included too much fluff that won't enter play in this description. Seemed like just enough so a player/GM would know how to run them.

Damn work is busy today. Actually working.

7:51 AM  
Blogger MTU: The Festrian Empire said...

Thahnks for the feedybacky: I'll try 'em one of these days.

10:43 AM  

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