Saturday, May 9, 2015

Statting the Alien Part 1

C.M.O.: Frigging elder gods ...

Tivk: They do not like when you curse them or call them 'smug bastard'.

C.M.O.: Smug bastard.

Tivk: The elder god is most likely gone and coaxing some pre spaceflight culture  to build ... you were not addressing the elder god, were you?

Mukh: I love your priorities. Were lost. No idea if we got a call out to the Tesla. We're low on fuel ....

Nok: K-k-k-k-k-k-k-k ...

Mukh: Wake the hell up!!

Mukh: ... did you figure out where we are yet?

Tivk: Not as yet.

Nok: ... wake me when you do.

C.M.O.: How is your astrogation progressing?

Tivk: I have ascertained we are in the Arcturus Group. Given the proximity and direction of transmissions from the Tenebrian and several mercenary vessels we may be near the Lurans. The work is slow as I am alone.

C.M.O.: Alone?! What else can we do to help?

Tivk: Your efforts are adequate. Any further contributions will be counter productive.

Mukh: We're too dumb in other words?

Tivk: Those words will do. But I refer to the lack of others of my kind. When we are together ... things work. We make ourselves brighter, more insightful.

C.M.O.: I resent that. We're a team and giving all the support we can ... except Nok.

Nok: Tell me where to fly. I fly there.

Tivk: No you can't understand. When I work in a group of my kind our minds link. Our congitive abilities improve. There is no insult intended. It is biology.

C.M.O.: You use telepathy.

Tivk: Nothing as crude as that. More like an unconscious gestalt mind giving us nudges in the right direction due to superior insight and pooling of data.

Mukh: And less like 'Pick a number from one to ten?'

Tivk: Yes.

C.M.O.: Uh that's a G type star we're closing in on. I'm reading a trinary star system a at 4.3 lights out and that gas giant with the red spot looks darned familiar.

Tivk: Sol system? Imposible. I am not reading any Fleet transmissions, installations or ships.

Nok: ... I'm checking our chronometer against known pulsar decay rates. Oh dear.

C.M.O.: Let me take a wild guess 1947?

Mukh: Fudge. We're too late to kill Hitler.

C.M.O.: I would absolutely let you kill Hitler.

Tivk: I think you guys are making me dumber.

I've been pondering aliens and how to treat them in rpgs: Traveller and OSR in particular. It's not easy. Aliens should seem alien which may seem obvious but the conventional treatment treats this by modifiers to different stats. This works to a point. An alien from a high gravity world will probably be stronger than a human. But some should be more unconventional and not merely take up a different spot on a bell curve.

One of the brilliant features of Traveller's design was giving different meaning to the Education and Social Standing stats to reflect different cultures. A Vargr for example didn't have a fixed SS. He had Charisma which would go up and down as he won or lost confrontations and had other successes or failures.

In the story above Tivk's people (beanpoles) share an unconscious mental bond that allows a group working together to increase the intelligence of their appointed leader. In game terms a beanpole leader who has a group equaling his maximum number of followers may add his Charisma modifier to rolls involving intelligence. A smaller group will modify the leader's intelligence according to the Charisma required to command that group.

Charisma was chosen because the leader must use his force of personality to command the group to increase his intelligence. When working with aliens an unusual effect takes place as the beanpole increases the intelligence modifier of the group.

As another example, Mukh's people, the phroggs, are not great at getting out of the way of trouble (or weapon fire). They are blessed with extremely thick slimy skins. In game terms the phrogg's modify their AC by their Constitution modifier, not Dexterity.

You can do a whole planet of hats riff this way. Get rid of Charisma (or just say that it only applies to galactic society or Terrans.) Want a planet of warriors? Use the Strength stat as Charisma (bigger stronger warriors have more followers because they are bigger and stronger), a planets of scientists would use Intelligence and of course there's Wisdom for your new age types.

Nok: I figured we'd solve the Roswell Mystery once and for all and people would stop blaming my people but it was bizarre.

C.M.O.: We ghost into a high orbit or try to and encounter over one hundred small crafts popping in through a series of temporal warps.

Mukh: Everybody wanted to kill Hitler but got there too late.

Captain: So what did you do then?

C.M.O.: We kind of waited a minute because we expected reality to implode. When it  didn't we didn't have a back up plan.

Tivk: I instructed Mr. Nok to proceed at full burn for the center of the mass of time traveling craft.

Mukh: Mr. Tivk asked me to send instructions to the other vessels to converge as well in as many lingua codes as I new. The space filled with chatter and we all did it. When we got the collision point <REEE!> and we were back in our time around Earth being yelled at by Space Command, Trafficon, C-Ops and ...

Nok: Them people don't know how to pilot.

Tivk: When I saw all those vessels I realized the Klordhop Temporal Paradox had a solution and what it was.

Captain: Annnnnnnnd?

Tivk: If time travel is possible why do we not have time travelers coming to alter history constantly? You had something similar called the Fermi Paradox. Where are all the smarter more advanced aliens?

Captain: Yeah. You SOBs were call screening. Klordhop though?

Tivk: Klordhop postulates that time travel is possible but meeting other travelers is not. Travelers encountering each other will be thrown back to their eras. Thus killing your Hitler is not possible. The many travelers attempting to kill him and save him at various points in his life makes intervention impossible.

Mukh: Crap.

C.M.O.: What is it with you and Hitler?

Mukh: Got me my reasons, Dolphin.

Tick: In any case I was correct. Of course ... with some encouragement from my colleagues.

Nok: There, did that hurt?

Tivk: Slightly.

Captain: Well brilliant resolution gentlemen. I'll expect reports on Big Glowing Head #67, your time jaunt and any other communiques you might have received from your future selves on my padlet tomorrow. But join me in the lounge for a libation now. My stuff.

C.M.O.: Thank you sir.

Mukh: Neat.

Nok: You coming beanpole?

Tivk: I need no libation. I wish to deal with some correspondence to my homeworld.

Nok: Later then. I'll have one for you.

Tivk: Begin transcript /startstartstart/ Tivk na-Tesla

<Brothers and sisters. Apparently I am not the moron you have always categorized me as. Rather my gestalt abilities lie in an unconventional area: I inspire others to great cognitive feats. I am compiling the anecdotal evidence as well as some brain scans and psi tests ... my friend the Doctor will administer shortly to prove my claims. They will also be sent to the Fleet Medical Board for confirmation ... so I doubt they will argue if I elect to remain with them. You were clear about me being a volunteer on this so-called worthless assignment. In any case you do not deserve my contribution. I am going to remain with my friends.>

Tivk na-Tesla /outoutout/ ... Smug bastards.