Thank you dear reader for coming back, this is the third instalment of our current Friday series, aptly titled Sci-Fi Fridays! I am nothing if not creative. As I’ve said before, I’m presenting material for my upcoming Savage Worlds campaign which I’ll soon be running for my gaming group. If you want to read the previous post, these are the links to Part I and Part II. Some of these you might have read in a previous post about the aliens, but I rewrote some parts, changed the rules for one of the species and added details about other species and alien ruins. I hope you enjoy it, and as always, I look forward to your feedback and comments.
Alien species exist in the known galaxy, but are far from common. Most alien species remain within the confines of their own settlements, willingly or otherwise. Very few venture beyond, with the exception of two that live among humans, the Q’al Uar and the Vuluhuan, but in very small numbers, only 10% to 15% of the general population of a settlement or colony, maybe less in less populous locations.
Q’al Uar are bipedal mammals that resemble the felines of old Earth. They stand on average 6’ (1.83 m) with little variation between males and females; female Qál Uar weight proportionately less than males, averaging 180 lbs. (81.64 kg) versus the male’s 220 lbs. (99.79 kg). Their fur ranges from tawny to a deep dark brown, with rare cases of completely white or black fur. Males have darker colored manes that they fix in different styles depending on the Q’al Uar sub-culture.
In their ancient past the Q’al Uar warred among themselves and their actions almost destroyed their world. When their actions threatened their survival the Q’al Uar left behind their violent ways, channeling those impulses to more constructive ends, and developed traditions and rituals to resolve conflict. Their culture is rich, warlike and honorable; a society of complex and myriad rituals and traditions, they are typically hard to understand to outsiders. Q’al Uar can be courteous and respectful one moment, but combative and aggressive at the slightest transgression to their ceremonies. Females traditionally assume the roles of politicians, diplomats, and scientists, while males are customarily soldiers, workers and craftsmen.
Ritual combat is part of their traditions, used to resolve transgressions and restore honor. These combats have evolved into widely popular blood sports and a caste of professional warriors that are hired by the dueling parties to represent them has emerged among the Q’al Uar. The most renowned duelists come from families of nomads that wander the vast trackless deserts of their home world trying to live following their ancient pre-star flight traditions. These sword masters are renowned and feared through the Union.
During the many conflicts fought by the Q’al Uar their once verdant home world was devastated by pollution and war; they took to the stars out of necessity not a thirst for conquest. They settled various planets in nearby star systems, but the more prevalent and common culture that developed out of their need to survive and drove them to travel beyond their world does not value needless expansion or conquest. They are much more prone to raid or take what they need from nearby settlements rather than conquer them.
Savage Worlds Rules:
- Agile: Q’al Uar are graceful and quick. They start with a d6 Agility attribute instead of a d4.
- Distrust: Q’al Uar traditions and culture are hard to understand to other species. They are honorable and respectful of each other and those they respect, having many complex and seemingly obscure rituals and traditions; but they can be combatant at the slightest transgression. They also have a reputation as raiders and for taking what they need or want forcibly. Many other species distrust them; they suffer a -2 to Charisma when dealing with other species.
- Low Light Vision: Q’al Uar eyes amplify light. They can see in the dark and ignore attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.
The Vuluhuan are six legged beings with a very unique physiology and social structure. They value knowledge greatly, specifically knowledge acquired first hand. Some may say their very existence is driven by this thirst for knowledge through experience. A Vuluhuan’s accumulated knowledge and experiences, what other species may call consciousness or the more religiously inclined a soul, is called the self in their language. Their bodies they consider vessels or tools. Both the self and the vessel are considered separate and interchangeable in their society, for the Vuluhuan can transfer their self from one vessel to another through a complex biochemical process.
This process, known as the sharing, is arduous and very personal, akin to intimacy in other species. The two Vuluhuan exchange enzymes and genetic coding thought a species specific naturally occurring process where they switch a self between each other; when a self is transferred to a new vessel, that vessel’s brain is overtaken by the new self and that Vuluhuan’s consciousness now resides in a new body. Initially this newly transferred self becomes dominant and the main self manifesting in that vessel. To an outside observer following this process it would seem as if the Vuluhuan’s consciousness had switched bodies.
The newly transferred self now shares the highly developed Vuluhuan brain with previous selves already hosted in that vessel. The Vuluhuan brain can hold various different selves at once, and once a new self is fully integrated, a process taking anywhere from hours to days, the Vuluhuan can switch between personalities for different purposes. The vessel holding the original self during the sharing process does not lose that self, it only goes dormant as the new self is integrated into the cortical amalgam. Thus a Vuluhuan consciousness, or self, exists in several bodies at the same time, independent and separate of each other.
The ideas of self, time, personality and property are very different and fluid in their society, each Vuluhuan self keeps its own time and history according to its memories and experiences, accommodating to a locally agreed to, and to them seemingly arbitrary, measurement of time for the purpose of collaborating with others. They reproduce asexually, and this is the only time Vuluhuans loose a self, they pass on that self into the new young, who then in turn goes on to collect new experiences and become a new amalgamation of beings.
The Vuluhuan word for their local community has been translated as brood by humans; they are composed of anything from six to over a hundred members, many sharing selves going back centuries. The broods are not static and Vuluhuans move from one brood to another as their amalgamation of selves change. Young Vuluhuans are raised by the community, and the parent shares equal responsibilities for the rearing of the young one with other members of the brood. The young are taken care of for a short span of between two and three years when the Vuluhuans become fully developed and join Vuluhuan society as full members. Thanks to anti-agathic drugs Vuluhuans are very long lived, often only allowing itself to die when they consider their search for a specific piece of knowledge has been acquired or an epiphany reached. As death approaches it is not uncommon for this Vuluhuan to enter a period of fruitful reproduction that allows many of its selves to continue their journey.
Their political structures seem chaotic and disorganized to outsiders, but since many members of larger broods share selves and experiences, there are few significant instances of violence. Broods organize into larger groups, called fellowships by other species, based around ideas, experiences and functions, often belonging to more than one. These groups are part philosophical movement, part guild and part research organization. When Vuluhuans enter into conflict the fellowships attempt to negotiate a settlement by sharing selves, when this proves unsuccessful there are reported instances of conflict and warfare, but they seem to be short lived and very localized. They are not religious in the sense some humans conceive of the faith experience, but they discuss and explore all sorts of metaphysical concepts and their arts and sciences seem inexorably intertwined with these concepts. The Vuluhuan have not experienced open warfare since the distant past when they began space travel and the broods and fellowships became disconnected and vastly different in their outlook due to prolonged space travel and distances before the development of FTL travel.
Vuluhuans who travel beyond Vuluhuan Space are seen as the bravest of the species, willing to seek knowledge beyond the brood or the fellowship. Still many Vuluhuan are weary and fearful of the effects this prolonged absence may have on those that are gone for too long.
Savage Worlds Rules:
- Six Limbs: A Vuluhuan uses its six limbs for different purposes. The hind limbs are used only for movement, while the mid pair is only used for manipulation, being the most sensitive of the six. The fore limbs can be used for both manipulation and propulsion, while one of the three fingers is an opposable thumb, the pads on the soles means they are less sensitive and are not typically used for fine manipulation. Despite the multiple limbs Vuluhuans are not faster than other species, their fore limbs have lost some of their strength as they evolved and they are no longer as fast as they were in the past. Vuluhuans are Ambidextrous with their mid and fore legs, as per the Edge, and gains the Additional Action ability (SFC, page 4), they get one extra non-movement action that incurs no multi action penalty.
- The Cacophony of Selves: The accumulated knowledge and experiences of the Vuluhuan’s selves means that there is a good chance the Vuluhuan has studied, heard of, or even practiced a skill during its life. It gains the benefits of the Jack of all Trades Edge, any time it makes an unskilled roll for a Smarts based skill, it may do so at d4 instead of the usual d4–2.
- Lifelong Scholars: The search for knowledge drives a Vuluhuan’s life. Through this searching they devote themselves to specific areas of interest. Select two knowledge skills (not Common Knowledge since this is not a skill per se) the Vuluhuan knows and add +2 to the total whenever these skills are used. A Vuluhuan may possess the Scholar Edge and apply the bonuses to other skills.
- Selves Over the Vessel: Through their evolution the Vuluhuan have placed greater value on the selves over the vessels, and their vessels have suffered as a consequence. Their ancient agility, strength and speed have greatly diminished; each generation of Vuluhuan is less physical than the previous one. Their Agility and Strength require two points per step to raise during character generation and their frailness means they suffer a -1 to Toughness.
- Too Many Voices: The constant shifting between different selves means that for other species it is often difficult to communicate with a Vuluhuan. A Vuluhuans attention wonders, they jump around from subject to subject, this sometimes manifest as a difficulty to communicate that other species mistakenly identify as a speech impediment aloofness or absentmindedness, they suffer a -2 to Charisma.
- Delicate Biochemistry: A Vuluhuan’s biology has evolved into a unique and very specialized form and they do not tolerate cybernetic enhancements, as per the Cyber Resistant Hindrance in the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion.
Other alien species:
- The Choir – Also known as the singers. Insubstantial light beings that live in the void of space. They have been reported as large as an asteroid and smaller than a human. Originally believed to be naturally occurring stellar events, observation and study by xeno-biologist proposes that these light beings have some sort of society and share information when they meet. Members of the Choir do not have biological functions like other races and apparently communicate amongst themselves through the changing light they emit. Ship’s sensors pick up sounds akin to music in the presence of these beings, thus the name others species have given them. Singers are drawn to displacement capable ships and while their presence has no adverse effects on ship’s systems, their “song” does cause interference to sensors. They typically travel through space slowly, but if close enough to a ship as it displaces into t-space they are known to hitch a ride in the displacement field, arriving with the ship at its destinations. Many spacers consider them a nuisance, others a blessing, and the members of the neo-evangelical faith the Children of the Galaxy believe they are divine beings.
- Cerdiallian – Bipedal, generally humanoid, they were friendly to human whom they considered a kindred species once. After first contact, the humans joined their conflict against the Kerdan’s, ultimately helping in their defeat. Cerdiallians have since grown weary of humans, after the children of Sol expanded beyond the home system and their wars engulfed the known galaxy. Cerdiallian society has grown increasingly xenophobic and guarded; they avoid contact with other species and have even abandoned some of their outposts near these species. The Cerdiallians have a saying about their conflicts with the Kerdans and the humans that aided them, “We once fought a vermin that threatened us, but forgot the hammer we used could be just as dangerous.”
- Kerdan – Bipedal, insect-like, viviparous. Called bugs or roaches by humans. Once the enemies of the Cerdiallians, the Kerdans seemed a danger to other species until humans expanded into the galaxy. They were defeated by a Cerdiallian-Human alliance, but the Cerdiallians no longer concern with them. Humans maintain a guarded attitude, keeping Kerdans under quarantine, contained to their original settlements. Kerdans are a broken species, dependent on humanity for their survival. They are no longer a threat, but many other species believe that the humans keep them under quarantine as an example to others who would dare to challenge them.
- Aubaná – An amphibious race, they never developed FTL travel and thus have no extra-planetary settlements, but possess slightly more advanced technology in most other fields when compared with the norm in the Union. First discovered by the Mega Corporations, exploited and mistreated. They were liberated after the Great Galactic War and are under the guardianship of the Rukta Workers Consortium. They are very cooperative with the Union.
There are ruins of unidentified alien species across many planets. Mostly machines partially destroyed with very few actually working electronics or parts, decayed architecture, and very few samples of art, mostly pictograms apparently created by a less advanced species that cohabited with them or even the species itself in a retrograde later stage. It is unclear whether they were one or various species; there are divergent theories on the matter and the archeological evidence has thus far not proven either conclusively, suggesting one or more type of beings with exotic or non-bipedal anatomies in some cases, and others suggesting a form closer in shape to the species in known space. Regardless, there are no conclusive records or evidence to confirm either way. However, archeological evidence does prove that the specie, or species, vanished all across the galaxy in a very short span of time. Some of their technology has been deciphered rudimentarily, giving rise to new technologies adapted by the humans, such as improved terraforming and effective gravitic-field generation. None of the alien species known to humankind were sentient at the time when the ruins were constructed and they know just as little as humanity. There are no known ruins in the home world of any of the major modern spacefaring species in the galaxy, thus far. Those that have travelled to the stars and encountered the ruins have different reactions. Some consider the ruins holy, other dangerous, but none are indifferent to them. This unknown species is referred to by various terms by scholars and common folk: precursors, ancients, galactic proto-culture, harvesters or the ghosts.
Next week on Part IV of the series we venture into the greater galaxy beyond the Outlands. See you then!