Thursday, November 27, 2014

Brothers in Fur

Humanity has yet to encounter true alien intelligences in the Icy Shores. Nevertheless the Scout Service at least frequently has multi-species crews. Some of the crew have whiskers and paws. Many of the other services have cats and dogs aboard their vessels. Cats take care of vermin on Merchant traders and liners. Some Navy ships have mascots with pedigree papers that get more respect than their captains (especially if the commanding officer is a commander or lower rank). A number of Marine and Army units have various Terran and off world creatures as mascots.

Only the Scouts list their dogs and cats as crew however.

Scout prefer dogs to cats for several reasons. A dog is less likely to jump on a control console and create an accident. Dogs are also far easier to train to book for their pressurized carriers when they hear a certain alarm siren. While cats are superior in keeping vessels clear of vermin this is less of a concern when Scout vessels regularly open an airlock to flush out the pests, something civilian and large navy vessels are less cavalier about. For these reasons dogs make up the majority of Fur Crew. Most Scouts consider a good ship's dog to be worth their weight in shore leave passes.

Ship dogs are typically smaller mixed breeds with at least some Terrier in their ancestry. They are small and tough dogs suited to hardship and also decent ratters but above all they are prized for alertness and intelligence. A good ship's dog is a four legged alarm system, their hearing and smell augmenting their human crew mates' eyes and ears. Size is not important. Usually the armament of a landing party outclasses the fangs of a 10 kg. canine.

The ship's assigned medic is usually in charge of the dog. Another benefit of canines is that most human medications have the same effects on them. Scouts do not usually have a lot of room for sick bays.

Peaslake, ship's dog on the Courier Psychopomp, managed to alert the engineer to a malfunctioning maneuver drive hearing a sudden change in the harmonics of the device before alarms picked it up. A catastrophic drive failure was averted. Similarly Gonzo, ship's dog on Survey Vessel Occulis barked alerting his landing party to an ambush by raiders. Fizz Jig, base dog on Prometheus alerted his mates and attacked a local predator that had infiltrated the Scout base saving untold lives. Sadly he was awarded the highest honors posthumously. The Order of Fizz Jig is the highest honor a ship's dog can receive.

Scouts turn exceptional dogs over to breeders at Scout bases to constantly improve the breed. Other ship's dogs are 'retired' to duty on a base or placed in the care of a retired Scout on detached duty.

In Traveller terms ship dogs are 3-12 kilograms in weight and attack using teeth. Their speed is 2-4. Ship dogs will not attack unless ordered to or cornered. They flee on 10+ or if their group breaks morale or flees. A group with a ship's dog has a +1 Surprise DM.

Scouts may use Medic or Jack of All Trade skill to order their dogs in various ways ('Shut up!" in hushed tones being quite popular). Generally the dog's superior officer has to roll 8+ to make the dog listen to instructions.

Ship dogs have the following additional characteristics:
Dog Skills (roll 1-3 times)
1) Hunter
2) Recon (tracking related)
3) Brawling (+1 to bite and +1 to evade)
4) Stay and 1-3 other commands followed automatically
5) Extremely cute (no skill)
6) Extremely obedient +1 to follow commands.