Some gaming notes for a race that will be appearing in the revised version of The Red Vixen at Sea.
"Redline" was probably the combat drug being fed to little Ali during her carreer with Bloody Margo
* * *
Background: While the Stellar Alliance tries to maintain harmony with all intelligent species outside of Alliance space, even the most inclusive Alliance citizens have a hard time putting in a good word for the Ardalians. Even going beyond their offsetting appearance, the typical Ardalian comes across as blunt, uncaring, and cruel, seeing other intelligent species as merely tools. Possessing a resource illegal to distribute in Alliance space, and a need for intelligent species to manipulate their environment, the Ardies have reputation for being the most despicable sentient race yet encountered.
Appearance and Biology: Evolved from shallows dwelling, plankton consuming invertebrates, adult Ardalians live in the shallows and coves of their worlds, a water planet with 85% oceanic coverage, the remaining 15% divided among scattered archipelagos. Their bodies are roughly saucer shaped, approximately one hundred and fifty yards in diameter, the skin undulating in surface patterns that can camoflauge them from casual observers or unlucky victims, with fifty large, plate sized eyes circling their body. Mounted between each set of eyes is a single tentacle that can extend to almost three hundred yards in length, the final yard long tip ending in a unique nerve cluster, which both allowed the Ardalians to develop a technological civilization and earn the disgust of free sentients everywhere.
This nerve cluster possesses the unique, and so far unduplicated, ability to interface with other species, even those with a radically different biology than that found on the Ardie homeworld. The tentacle tip is pressed against a subject, or more accurately victim’s, back, allowing thousands of needle sharp “nerve pins” to pierce the subject’s spine and create an interface between the Ardalian and the subject. This procedure has been described as “having molten lava poured over your nerve ends” by the few survivors of the experience. The process takes about an hour to complete, and the victim is usually restrained and conscious, as the Ardie tests and cements its control.
Once complete, the interface allows the Ardalian to use the victim’s eyes and ears to observe the world, and their hands to manipulate it. Their puppets have no control during this process, their own nerve impulses overridden, only able to feel and observe silently as their bodies are used for the Ardie’s own ends. The feeling of violation is terrifying, and the few puppets that have been successfully freed from the interface often suffer long term psychological damage, beyond the physical damage inflicted on their bodies by the uncaring Ardie controlling them.
Ardalians reproduce by budding, releasing up to a hundred buds at once every twenty years or so, to float away with the tides, most to be eaten predators before they can mature. Adolescent Ardalians are mobile, crawling along the floor of their world’s seas at one yard per second, until they’re either eaten or find a safe harbor.
Society: Ardalians are highly individualistic, the nature of their biology making it difficult to even form a community to interact with. Nevertheless they managed, using their sonar to communicate over long distances, and a local species of borderline sentient humanoids (roughly equivalent to Australopithecus) to do work on the shoreline that couldn’t be done in the water. Even so, since the ability to mine metals was very limited, so was their technology, until first contact was made with a Stellar Alliance exploration ship and trade could begin.
First contact revealed much about the Ardalian personality. While they do have some admirable traits, mostly a devotion to speaking truthfully bordering on rude, they have a hard time thinking of other sentient, in particular their enslaved puppets, as people. To an Ardalian, the only people worthy of consideration are other Ardies, and then only to the point of what use they can be. Anyone else, especially their puppets, is a disposable tool. Indeed, prior to their discovery by the Alliance, they were on the verge of losing their ability to manipulate items on land because they were killing the local humanoids faster than they could breed.
Alliance Relations: They can described as “strained” at best. Ardalians don’t leave their homeworld except under extraordinary circumstances, but they’re desperate for Alliance credits to build up their tech level. While there’s some argument in favor of providing the Ardies with robots to replace their puppets, there are few things the Ardies have, beyond biofauna unique to their world, that can’t be found elsewhere trading with more pleasant races.
Unfortunately for the Alliance, one of those pieces of biofauna is the Trileaf, an innocuously named flowering plant that is the base ingredient in Redline, an amphetamine variant commonly used as a combat drug. One ampule has a street value of $500, and provides the user with a feeling of invincibility and immunity to pain for up to ten minutes (Combat Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Overconfidence), followed by a crash that subtracts 20 minus HT worth of Fatigue Points. Using it more than once a week requires a 3d6 HT roll, failure resulting in a permanent subtraction of one HT. In terms of value for an Addiction disadvantage, it’s considered Illegal, Expensive, and Highly Addictive.
For obvious reasons the Alliance forbids the export of Trileaf except to licensed research institutes. For equally obvious reasons various criminal enterprises try to get around this restriction. Currently the Alliance charter forbids interdicting planets that have not proven to be overtly hostile to member worlds, though this interpretation is getting increasing scrutiny as Redline addiction spreads. This is especially acute given that Ardies, when they aren’t trying to get technology, are trying to get slaves to replace their dwindling puppet population. The usual victims are captives taken when a pirate attacks a civilian vessel, though there are always urban legends abound about innocent tourists getting drugged while on a “safe” Alliance world and finding themselves shipped to Ardalia Prime (and maybe missing a kidney or spare lung).
Ardalian Adult, 663 Points
Stats: ST +50 *, DX +2 , HT +2 , Will + 2 , Basic Move ** SM 8
Appearance: Monstrous (universal) [-25]
Social: Tech Level -4 [-20]
Advantages: 360 Degree Vision . Acute Hearing/4 , Ally Group (slaves), 21-50 allies, -25% point total, constant x4, minion +50%, touch range only -30% , Chameleon , Doesn’t Breathe (gills) , 48 Extra Arms, extra-flexible +50%, weak, -50% , Injury Tolerance: No Head, No Neck , Night Vision/5 ,Photographic Memory , Regrowth ,Sonar , Unaging .
Disadvantages: Callous [-5], Cold Blooded [-10], Increased Life Support (massive) [-10], Intolerance (all non-Ardalians) [-10], No Legs (sessile) [-50], Selfish [-5], Truthfulness [-5].
* -80% for Size Modifier 8
**Due to Sessile.