Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Psi-Threats and new Anthros

Yesterday morning, I put Psi-Threats: Book One Mutant and Machine up for sale on RPGnow. This is the first in a line of short and mid-length bestiaries for the Psi-Watch Campaign Setting. Beneath the awesome Anthony Cournoyer cover, you'll find 35 pages of what's basically X-Men badguys with the serial numbers filed off for Pathfinder and Ultimate Psionics. This first sourcebook's highlights include great homages to the Sentinels, the Reavers, and...the Savage Dragon. I'm already working on Book Two, which will focus on psychic soldiers and special operatives for the various Psi-Watch factions.

Next up. What would you say to a completely revised, one book version of Fursona? The Pathfinder adaptation of Battlechangers got me thinking of new ways to build Anthro characters: more flexibility, no ever-expanding list of Orders. I started playing around with the Gravity Cats from Galaxy Command/Heavy Future, and came up with a revised Shipper player race. I'm thinking that when I eventually do revise Fursona, I'll rebuild Anthros in-line with the design philosophy you see here.

Take a look.

Medium Humanoid (anthro)
“Shippers” is common slang for a myriad of interfertile semi-animalistic aliens with no clear home world or point of origins. Many Shippers hail from worlds either conquered or annihilated outright during the Great Galactic Darkness, or worlds that were lost to the relentless march of the Imperial Church of the Galaxy’s anti-anthro pogroms.

Shippers have organized themselves in a loose confederacy of generation ships and hollowed-out asteroid habitats as a matter of necessity. They survive as stellar nomads, trading service for passage, or occasionally, provisional citizenship. Mostly though, they ply the stellar trade routes, drifting between cold and distant stars, seeking their fortunes.

Shippers are an assortment of anthropomorphic hominids, ranging in size from petite rodent-derived species that barely top 4.5 ft to massive ursiods and capricornoids that are 7.5 ft walls of muscle, fur and horn. The most numerous ethnic blocs within the Shipper confederacy seem to be derived from rodent-evolved or felinoid stock.

The various Shipper races are interfertile and often omni-fertile, suggesting either some common ancestry or genetic tinkering sometime in the distant past. As a result, details like fur and eye configuration, cranial shape, tail length and texture, the presence of horns, crests and other display appendages seems to vary wildly among individuals. Thanks to recessive genes, a family of grey-pelted lapine-derived Shippers might occasionally give birth to a larger than normal kit with crimson and gold tiger striping.

The one commonality among Shippers is their dress: space-worthy and highly practical. Shippers usually wear armored jump suits and custom fitted space suits designed around a rack of antlers or a long, semi-prehensile tail. They tend to carry everything they own neatly rolled up in an engineer’s bedroll or slid into one of their many jumpsuit pockets.

Shippers are a space born race. The species has no homeworld- some Shipper races lack any curiosity or nostalgia for their lost homeworlds. Others have mythologized what they have lost as ancestral paradise- a destroyed heaven for anthropomorphics of their genotype.

Shippers were forced to become galactic gypsies, who survive by selling their services (as everything from astronautics technicians to prostitutes to mercenaries) to the major stellar empires. Traveling in enormous ark ships carved from planetoids and ancient star cruisers, Shippers have crossed and re-crossed the Milky Way, and have visited every major planetary port of call.

Shipper society is based around the ark; the citizens of a single ark are considered part of a single extended family, regardless of their evolutionary lineage. These ‘ark families’ can include well over a hundred thousand Shippers, all unified in a quest for resources, profit and glory. Rivalries between ark ships can be deadly, especially when the clans are competing for scarce resources or some juicy contract.

Sex, Drugs and Violence
Shippers are an earthy, sexual people, with few sexual taboos. Most of their taboos are fairly common-sense prohibitions against crimes like rape and incest, rather than complex ethical prohibitions. Public displays of affection are not frowned on, and given the cramped conditions aboard most arcs, most Shippers politely look the other way if a neighbor is rutting.

The various Shipper lineages are interfertile, and many Shippers are pan-racial. Breeding outside the lineage is encouraged, as unexpected new genetic combinations that prove viable have the potential to uplift the race as a hole. Pregnancy and birth is celebrated among Shippers, and many arks are hotbeds of eugenic experimentation, as various Shippers strive to find the perfect mix of bloodlines. Complex, often polyamorous relationships that bind several allied crews are the norm.

Shipper pregnancies tend to last between six months and a year, and depending on the creatures involved, might produce a single birth, a litter of dozens of kits, or anything in between. Miscarriages and infant mortality are slightly higher than the galactic norm; given their genetic diversity, not every new Shipper mutation is a positive one. Lifespan tends to be commiserate with the Human Diaspora, though there both positive and negative exceptions.

Politics & Culture
Shippers hold a culture-wide loathing for the bigots of the ICG elite and have a deep suspicion of even everyday ICG faithful. The ICG has spent centuries trying to annihilate any blending of humanoid and animal, something they consider anathema, and many older Shippers can recite the names of ship-mates and friends lost to an ICG kill squad.

Despite this, Shippers will sometime do piecework for the ICG, if their ark can’t find a better contract somewhere. They don’t like it, and the ICG are bastards to work for, but in desperate times, the Shippers will grudgingly do it.

Shippers are on better terms with a variety of galactic factions, but aren’t truly trusted by anyone. Many Free Spacers have intermarried into Shipper arcs and vice versa. The race gets along well with the similarly space-based Proximites. In any port of call, anywhere in the dirty galaxy, you’ll find three races above all else: humans, Proximites and Shippers.

Shipper names translate colorfully into Galactic Common. The aliens place a great deal of importance on family, and each ark family tends to earn a reputation based upon its members’ exploits. Individual Shippers are more likely to be stereotyped based upon their ark of origin then they are by their species as a whole. There isn’t much difference between male and female Shipper names.
Personal Names: Engine Whisper, Light Whisker, Plasma Horn, Star Paw, Sun Runner
Ark Surnames: Battlemoon Ark (always demands cash up front for merc work), Brightwarp Ark (great, if arrogant fighter aces), Meteorcrusher Ark (asteroid miners, but they steal), Novasong Ark (owe the Corporation Command big, most join the Command Fleet)

Shippers begin play speaking a trade language common to all arks, called Shipper Patois and Galactic Common. Shippers with high INT scores can choose any language as a bonus language, except for secret languages like Druidic.

Shipper Racial Traits
All Shippers share the following racial traits.

Size and Type
Shippers are Medium Humanoids with the anthro and psionic subtypes. As Medium creatures, Shippers receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Ability Score Modifiers
+2 to any ability score of choice
Shippers are a diverse collection of species, with many unique aptitudes and racial gifts. Like humans, they are resistant to pigeonholing.

Normal Speed (EX)
Shippers have a base land speed of 30 ft.

Evolutionary Ability (EX)
Shippers have many powers, unique to their animal breeds. Each Shipper selects one ability from the following menu of extraordinary racial abilities. Once chosen, this gift cannot be changed, as they reflect the Shipper’s lineage.

Armored Hide (EX): The Shipper gains a +4 natural armor bonus to AC.

Bestial Senses (EX): The Shipper gains a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks to notice animate creatures or objects. They receive a check to notice movement whenever it happens within 50 ft of them, whether or now they are actively looking.  

Bonus Feat (EX): The Shipper gains a single racial bonus feat chosen from this list: Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Nimble Moves, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (natural weapons only).

Climb Speed (EX): The Shipper gains a Climb speed of 30 ft and a +4 racial bonus on Climb checks.

Hearty (EX): The Shipper is immune to disease and gains a +2 racial bonus on FORT saves against poison. (This stacks with the benefit provided by a Scavenger metabolism.)

Insulated Hide (EX): The Shipper has a thick, water proof pelt that provides Cold Resistance 5.
Pounce (EX): The Shipper gains the Pounce racial quality.

Swift (EX): The Shipper’s base land speed increases to 40 ft.

Swim Speed (EX): The True Beast gains a Swim speed of 30 ft and a +4 racial bonus on Swim checks.

Metabolism (EX)
Shippers are derived from an assortment of animal species, which defines their natural gifts. Most important among the distinctions between Shippers is their preferred feeding strategy. Choose one metabolism at character creation, which determines many of the Shipper’s traits (as well as the diet they demand from shipboard food replicators.)

Herbivore: Shipper herbivores receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks, and gain a +2 natural armor bonus to AC.

Omnivore: Shipper omnivores receive a +2 racial bonus on Acrobatics, Climb and Survival checks, and one of these skills is always a class skill for them.

Carnivore: Shipper carnivores gain Darkvision 60 ft and the Scent special quality and gain Weapon Focus (natural weapons) as a racial bonus feat.

Scavenger: Shipper scavengers gain the Scent special quality and receive a +4 racial bonus on FORT Saves against disease and poison. Scavengers can eat carrion, rotting meat or garbage and derive nutrition without ill effects.

Natural Weapons (EX)
All Shippers possess some form of natural weapon, provided by evolution.

Shippers receive two natural weapon attacks as primary natural attack forms. These either take the form of two claw attacks that inflict 1d6 + STR modifier points of slashing damage (20/x2) or two hoof stomps that inflict 1d6 + STR modifier points of bludgeoning damage (20/x2).

Alternatively, the Shipper can select a single gore attack that inflicts 1d10 + STR modifier points of damage (20/x3) in the case of horned (rhinoceros) or antlered (deer, elk) derived Shipper species.

Lowlight Vision (EX)
Shippers possess lowlight vision.

Skilled Spacer (EX)
Shippers are well adapted to life in space, and are most comfortable aboard a starship. They’re damn good spacers, the equal of any human Free Spacer or Proximite techie.

Shippers receive Zero G Training as a racial bonus feat. Shippers receive a +2 racial bonus on Pilot checks and Computer Use checks made to control shipboard systems.

Shippers Alternate Racial Traits
Shippers aren’t a single, monolithic species. Instead, this motley assortment of anthro spacers represents the infinite diversity of shapes that intelligent life can take in the galaxy.

Cosmopolitan (EX)
Skilled Spacer
Shippers have a natural gift for languages and enjoy encountering new cultures: first contact is always a joyous occasion for these spacers.

She shipper begins play speaking 1d4+1 additional bonus languages, in addition to languages she earns for having a high INT modifier. The Shipper gains a bonus rank in Linguistic and a new language known each time she levels up.

Master Pilot (EX)
Replaces: Skilled Spacer
There’s nobody better behind the controls of a star fighter than a Shipper pilot: after all, there’s a good reason they call it ‘dog-fighting’, right? The Shipper is treated as having the Improved Initiative feat when at the controls of any spacecraft. If the Shipper already has this feat, the effects stack.

Naturally Psionic (EX)
Replaces: Either Evolutionary Ability or Skilled Spacer
The Shipper gains Wild Talent as a racial bonus feat. If she later takes levels in a psionic class, she gains Psionic Talent instead. Whenever the Shipper gains a new level, she may choose to gain an additional power point rather than a bonus skill point or Hit Point.

Skilled Engineer (EX)
Skilled Spacer
The Shipper spends her time on the engineering decks rather than the bridge, fixing and jury-rigging, rather than piloting.

The Shipper receives Zero G Training as a racial bonus feat. The Shipper receives a +2 racial bonus on all Craft checks made to repair or upgrade a space vessel’s systems.

Station Sense (EX)
Replaces: Lowlight Vision
When aboard a space station, starship, or other large enclosed environment (such as a submarine), the Shipper attunes herself to the subtle vibrations of the engine and ever-present hum of life support. When in an environmentally sealed vehicle or environment, Shippers gain tremorsense with a 60 ft radius.

Telepathic Shipper (SU)
Natural Weapons, adds subtype
Several Shipper breeds have evolved innate telepathic gifts, the better to bridge the communication gaps between the various Shipper lineages. The Shipper gains telepathy 100 ft and gains the psionic subtype.

Final business?
 Andrew, I read your suggestions for some APEX spells in the comments of a previous post, and dig your ideas. If you want to write the sourcebook, drop me an email. You've got some cool ideas, man.

Blessed Be,

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