Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Psi-Wars Alien Races: the Traders

Homeworld: None (Sterilized during their war with humanity)
Other Worlds: Jubilee Station and the Trader Belt.

The Traders earned their name through commerce, but they earned their place at the galactic center through innovative navigational techniques. Early Traders mastered higher mathematics that allowed them to envision and interact with hyperdimensional space. Using these techniques, they were among the first races to travel to the stars. They soon found other races, even ancient empires, and but rather than swap blaster fire with these new species, the Traders chose to swap trade goods.

When those ancient empires fell, the Traders discovered that the only humanity, a new-comer to the galactic scene, competed with them for dominion over the galactic center. If a few battles had gone differently, if luck had favored the Traders, history may well have gone in a very different direction, but instead, for their foray into empire-building, the Traders found their homeworld destroyed and their race scattered across the galaxy.

Today, Traders ply the stars with their great and vast arks, vast dreadnoughts that house entire cities of Traders within them, including housing, restaurants, hospitals, industry and ship-repair facilities. These great arks collect together into great “Guild fleets,” which used to act as roving industrial centers and corporate headquarters, but with the destruction of their homeworld, these guild fleets have devolved into extended clans, serving to guard and protect the remnants of the Trader people. Traders have only one permanent settlement: Jubilee Station, a huge space station/space colony in the Trader elt that acts as a permanent Trader marketplace, a home for myriad alien cultures, and a point to which all Guild Fleets return every 20 years for their grand Trader Jubilee, where they swap stories, star charts, and even family members, and then set off to explore something new.

Traders blend humanoid features with strange and alien traits to create an alluringly exotic combination that many other aliens find both intriguing and repulsive. They mostly resemble hairless, green-skinned humans with liquid black eyes, and wear tight-fitting skin-suits that underline just how feminine or masculine the more attractive members of the species might be. Beneath and along their supple, dark-green lips lie the tell-tale signs of the “Trader grin:” a thin black line that goes from their mouth down their chin and deep into their cheeks. When a Trader isn’t politely offering another alien a close-mouthed smile, their faces split open to reveal a split pair of mandibles lined with rows of teeth; their unhinged jaws allow the to gulp down slithering, still-living prey, like leather eels. Self-conscious Traders hide this feature behind a face mask or filter mask.

A Trader’s intellect truly sets him apart from other species. While no smarter than other species, they think faster than everyone else. For them, seconds drift by as slowly as minutes do for others. They read a page at a glance, and they speak a language called Klik, which allows them to convey a minute’s worth of conversation in a mere second, and at an exceptionally high pitch that’s barely audible to normal species. Most Traders master Galactic Common at a young age, and even prefer its poetry to the dry logic of Klik, but they’ll sprinkle Klik into their conversations in a series of seemingly unimportant clicks or short, high-pitched, stuttered whines that seem nothing more than an odd affectation to other species but is, in fact, an entire second layer to a conversation mostly incomprehensible to anyone but a fellow Trader.

Traders suffer from frailty. They have delicate physiques and their life aboard starships make them prone to disease. To compensate for this, Traders have mastered the arts of cybernetics and robotics. They often sport spidery and baroque cybernetics, and rather than battle their foes directly, they make heavy use of robotic assistance.

Traders usually prefer to be Diplomats or Smugglers, both of which allow them to bring their superior deal-making skills to the fore. Trader society frowns upon Con Artists, but Traders who choose to go this route tend to be very good. Traders make excellent cyberneticists, and such often end up as Scavengers. Finally, Traders don’t generally engage in war, but they do worry about their own safety, and so some Traders become Security Agents.

Most Traders have the Wanderer background; Traders who grow up on Jubilee Station have the Humble Origins background. Those who run Trader arks or guild fleets have titles and are thus Aristocrats.

Trader Racial Template: 25 points

Attributes: ST -2 [-20]

Advantages: Born Biter [1], Enhanced Time Sense [45], Sharp Teeth [1], Ultraspeech (Burst x100 +30%) [13]

Features: Green skin; hairless.

Disadvantages: Monstrous Maw (-2 to reaction when mouth visible while speaking or eating) [-2], Susceptible (Disease) -2 [-8], Social Stigma (Minority) [-5].

Trader Traits

Born Biter: Traders can target any hit location susceptible to cutting attacks (i.e. the neck, the skull, etc), and may use bite attacks to cripple or sever limbs.  Their bites are considered two-handed grapples for the purposes of strangling or breaking free.  See GURPS Martial Arts page 115 for more (Treat a Trader as SM +1 for the purposes of bite-attacks).

Enhanced Time Sense: GURPS Gun Fu and GURPS Monster Hunters 5 have some nice additional suggestions for Enhanced Time Sense. Consider granting the following bonuses:
  • The character always goes first in the combat order.
  • The character always wins at contests involving "cascading waits."
  • The character always gets a chance to defend against any ranged attack he could reasonably detect, even if surprised (or any attack, if he has Danger Sense).
  • The character gains +5 for any active analytical perception rolls for "taking the maximum possible amount of time."  This explicitly includes "Analysis" and "Spotting" from Action 2 page 39.

Ultra-Speech: A trader can have a minute and a half conversation in less than a second.  If the GM is strict on speaking times during combat, a Trader player can communicate with other Trader characters in full, minute-long exchanges.  If the GM has looser restrictions, Traders should be freer to have entire conversations during a turn.  To understand Klik requires both Enhanced Time Sense and Ultra-Hearing.

Trader Names

Trader Names formally begin with their “Guildfleet” name, and then are followed with a given name.  The names tend to be native in Klik, which makes them unpronouncable for the rest of the Galaxy, and the resulting names tend to have a similar sharp, stacatto sound.  Many traders will substitute human names for dealing with the rest of the members of the Galaxy, rather than listen to their names being mangled by the insufferably slow speech of the other races.

Sample Guildfleet Names: Atelax, Ito, Lulelo, Tekelu, Rhee, Ro

Male Names: Kili, Lee, Matitu, Meex, Melo, Rex, Rikee, Riku, Talix, Thrax.

Female Names: Amara, Keres, Kitee, Malika, Meeka, Pipa, Sela, Tatu, Tia, Tira,

Mailanka Muses about the Traders

Patreons voted on the Traders all the way back in Iteration 5, thus they've been one of the most detailed races for the longest, beaten out only, technically, by the "felinoid" race.  The final result was something of the fantasy trope of the "gypsy" or "tinker" race, one very reminiscent of the Quarians from Mass Effect.  They're a strictly technological, and so contrast nicely with the foundational races, with their arks and skinsuits reminding the players that, yes, this is a sci-fi setting!  I personally think they have an excellent template, very simple, straightforward and creates interesting gameplay.

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