Ask the Readers: What about this alien species?

AlienHello dear readers! Not writing too much on the blog these days, mainly because I’m working on my Thesis. But on those days when the writing is done and I’m not ready to go to bed, I need to work on something else, something to unwind. So I’ve kept tolling away on my sci-fi campaign, Wanderers of the Outlands. I’ve written at length about it here, and one of the topics was alien species. I’ve settled on two alien species for the game, and they will not be common, my idea is for the game to be very human centric.

One of the races is a cat-like species, something common to many sci-fi setting, but for the other species I was going for something completely different, at least as different as I could conceive it! Thus where born the Vuluhuan…

So why does it say “Ask the Readers in the title of the post? I would want your feedback on the species, and specifically about the rules portion. This is my first attempt at constructing such a complex race for Savage Worlds. I know there are Savage Worlds fans among our readers and I will appreciate your input.

Thanks for reading…

Vuluhuan

The Vuluhuan are six legged beings with a very unique physiology and social structure. They value knowledge greatly, specifically knowledge acquired first hand. Some may say their very existence is driven by this thirst for knowledge through experience.  A Vuluhuan’s accumulated knowledge and experiences, what other species may call consciousness or the more religiously inclined a soul, is called the self in their language. Their bodies they consider vessels or tools. Both the self and the vessel are considered separate and interchangeable in their society, for the Vuluhuan can transfer their self from one vessel to another through a complex biochemical process.

This process, known as the sharing, is arduous and very personal, akin to intimacy in other species. The two Vuluhuan exchange enzymes and genetic coding thought a species specific naturally occurring process where they switch a self between each other; when a self is transferred to a new vessel, that vessel’s brain is overtaken by the new self and that Vuluhuan’s consciousness now resides in a new body. Initially this newly transferred self becomes dominant and becomes the self manifesting in that vessel. To an outside observer following this process it would seem as if the Vuluhuan’s consciousness had switched bodies.

The newly transferred self now shares the highly developed Vuluhuan brain with previous selves already hosted in that vessel. The Vuluhuan brain can hold various different selves at once, and once a new self is fully integrated, a process taking anywhere from hours to days, the Vuluhuan can switch between personalities for different purposes. The vessel holding the original self during the sharing process does not lose that self, it only goes dormant as the new self is integrated into the cortical amalgam. Thus a Vuluhuan consciousness, or self, exists in several bodies at the same time, independent and separate of each other.

The ideas of self, time, personality and property are very different and fluid in their society, each Vuluhuan self keeps its own time and history according to its memories and experiences, accommodating to a locally agreed to, and to them seemingly arbitrary, measurement of time for the purpose of collaborating with others. They reproduce asexually, and this is the only time Vuluhuans loose a self, they pass on that self into the new young, who then in turn goes on to collect new experiences and become a new amalgamation of beings. The Vuluhuan word for their local community has been translated as brood by humans; they are composed of anything from six to over a hundred members, many sharing selves going back centuries. The broods are not static and Vuluhuans move from one brood to another as their amalgamation of selves change. Young Vuluhuans are raised by the community, and the parent shares equal responsibilities for the rearing of the young one with other members of the brood. The young are taken care of for a short span of between two and three years when the Vuluhuans become fully developed and join Vuluhuan society as full members. Thanks to anti-agathic drugs Vuluhuans are very long lived, often only allowing themselves to die when they consider their search for a specific piece of knowledge has been acquired or an epiphany reached. As death approaches it is not uncommon for this Vuluhuan to enter a period of fruitful reproduction that allows many of its selves to continue their journey.

Their political structures seem chaotic and disorganized to outsiders, but since many members of larger broods share selves and experiences, there are few significant instances of violence. Broods organize into larger groups, called fellowships by other species, based around ideas, experiences and functions, often belonging to more than one. These groups are part philosophical movement, part guild and part research organization. When Vuluhuans enter into conflict the fellowships attempt to negotiate a settlement by sharing selves, when this proves unsuccessful there are reported instances of conflict and warfare, but they seem to be short lived and very localized. They are not religious in the sense some humans conceive of the faith experience, but they discuss and explore all sorts of metaphysical concepts and their arts and sciences seem inexorably intertwined with these concepts. The Vuluhuan have not experienced open warfare since the distant past when they began space travel and the broods and fellowships became disconnected and vastly different in their outlook due to prolonged space travel and distances before the development of FTL travel.

Vuluhuans who travel beyond Vuluhuan Space are seen as the bravest of the species, willing to seek knowledge beyond the brood or the fellowship. Still many Vuluhuan are weary and fearful of the effects this prolonged absence may have on those that are gone for too long.

  • Multiple Limbs: A Vuluhuan uses its six limbs for different purposes. The hind limbs are used only for movement, while the mid pair is only used for manipulation, being the most sensitive of the six. The fore limbs can be used for both manipulation and propulsion, while one of the three fingers is an opposable thumb, the pads on the soles means they are less sensitive and are not typically used for fine manipulation. Despite the multiple limbs Vuluhuans are not faster than other species, their fore limbs have lost some of their strength as they evolved and they are no longer as fast as they were in the past. Vuluhuans multiple limbs grant them two extra non-movement actions that incur no multi-action penalty and they are Ambidextrous, as per the Edge, with their fore and mid limbs.
  • The Cacophony of Selves: The accumulated knowledge and experiences of the Vuluhuan’s selves means that there is a good chance the Vuluhuan has studied, heard of, or even practiced a skill during its life. It gains the benefits of the Jack of all Trades Edge, any time it makes an unskilled roll for a Smarts based skill, it may do so at d4 instead of the usual d4–2.
  • Lifelong Scholars: The search for knowledge drives a Vuluhuan’s life. Through this searching they devote themselves to specific areas of interest.  Select two knowledge skills (not Common Knowledge since this is not a skill per se) the Vuluhuan knows and add +2 to the total whenever these skills are used. A Vuluhuan may possess the Scholar Edge and apply the bonuses to other skills.
  • Selve Over the Vessel: Through their evolution the Vuluhuan have placed greater value on the selves over the vessels, and their vessels have suffered as a consequence. Their ancient agility, strength and speed have greatly diminished; each generation of Vuluhuan is less physical than the previous one. Their Agility and Strength require two points per step to raise during character generation and the character must dedicate two Advances to raising the attribute during game play.  Vigor requires two points per step to raise during character generation.
  • Too Many Voices: The constant shifting between different selves means that for other species it is often difficult to communicate with a Vuluhuan. A Vuluhuans attention wonders, they jump around from subject to subject, this sometimes manifest as a difficulty to communicate that other species mistakenly identify as a speech impediment, they suffer a -2 to Charisma.
  • Delicate Biochemistry: A Vuluhuan’s biology has evolved into a unique and very specialized form and they do not tolerate cybernetic enhancements as well as other species. This cyber intolerance means that they have a -2 to the maximum number of cybernetics enhancements they can undergo.

PS – So that’s about it… I had NOT settled in an appearance for them. I knew I wanted them NOT to be bipedal, but look somewhat familiar or endearing, animal-like, enough for humans to project some preconceptions on them, and make their culture, hopefully, contrary to what those preconceptions would be. I recently saw some alien concept art by the artist Damalia in Deviant Art. I liked it so much that the above description includes some ideas taken from her concept art. I would like to publically compliment her on her art and thank her for her inspiration. Check it out!

3 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: What about this alien species?”

    1. That’s an awesome alien race!!! Thanks for sharing it… That is FATE right? I have played FATE once, and I’m reading FATE Core, and while I love the ideas presented, I am using SW for this campaign since my players prefer a more structured game. But I really want to try it out. How has it worked in your experience?

      Thanks for commenting…

  1. I’ve been pretty satisfied with FATE. We started out with “Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer” and moved to “Bulldogs” when that came out.

    As you can see, Aspects are a great way of both defining Player Characters and giving them a mechanical bonus for role-playing and problem solving. The skill pyramid also makes sure that P.C.s are complementary but don’t step on one another’s toes, and I like how FATE scales up to starships and organizations.

    I’ve also played in other Game Masters’ “Savage Worlds” games, including some space operas. It’s a bit more tactical than FATE, if not as much as D20 or other systems. I recommend trying FATE “Core” for a one-shot or miniseries between your other campaigns.

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