British Space: Preface
Characters should be built on 100 points with 45 in disadvantages, including quirks. In order to retain a degree of realism, no more than 80 points can be spent on attributes for any character, although less than that amount may be spent. This would allow a 12 in all attributes, one attribute at 16, or some other balance.
Characters should hold some loyalty to the British Crown and should not be complete lunatics. The availability of guns and common sense make the cream of 1915 military hardware out of the question. Exercise your best judgement on this, or I as the GM will do so for you.
Skills should be directed towards the appropriate technology. For example, telegraphy might be useful, while electronics will definitely not. Oriental skills, such as karate, judo, breath control, and other martial arts are unavailable to Europeans and Extra-terrestrials.
Status is very important to the English. Regardless of a character's base reaction modifier, NPC's of significantly higher status will always look down on them, while characters of lower status will almost always defer to them. As such, status is at least as valuable as charisma or attractiveness.
It should be noted that status is bought independently of wealth. A poor man who scrapes enough money together to present himself well might be status 0, or may have a positive reputation that cancels it out. A businessman may well have all his money tied up in frozen investments, leaving him with effectively normal wealth.
LEVELS OF STATUS
Status -2: No money at all
Status -1: Poor
Status 0: Working Bloke
Status 1: Shop owner, Clergyman
Status 2: Successful Businessman
Status 3: Industrialist
Status 4: Minor Titled Noble
Status 5: Titled Noble, Bishop
Status 6: Distant Royal Family
Status 7: Immediate Royal Family
Independent of social status, certain groups may carry a certain stigma. If a player chooses, a reputation may be bought to counter a negative stigma without counting it against the disadvantage limit.
Woman: Second Class Citizen (-5)
Alien (Off Homeworld): Outsider (-10)
Minority (Indian or African): Outsider (-10)
Outlaw: Total Outcast (-15)
The Realm of Space
Although the 1915 space campaign is similar in many respects to
the historical 1915, I feel it is important to lay out the premises
with which I have revised history. Other campaign briefs will
be written from the point of view of this fictional 1915. As such,
this is the only one that will mention the real world at all.
What follows are the initial changes made in the laws of science
or in events that I believe lead logically to my chronology.
In order to make space travel possible even to the moon, there has to be the ability for high pressure seals to be constructed as far back as 1875. Further, Zeppelin's development of the airship had to begin much earlier in his life, before 1850.
Interplanetary travel relies on the existence of an ether, the theoretical medium through which light would travel. As a result, Einstein's relativity does not hold true, removing the speed of light as a maximum speed. As a result, a lantern held in a car moving at 25 mph will go forward at a greater speed than a lantern held by a man standing still. Further, the often used science fiction trick of time dilation will not save travellers from aging. Time is absolute for all observers. Despite this, nuclear fusion still occurs, through some unclear atomic process, (though no scientist would know about it) if only because I can't think of another way to power the sun.
Heat Transfer and the Spark of Life
The only thing that forbids life as we know it from evolving in planets outside the belt of life that contains Earth and probably Mars and Venus is the fact that sunlight decreases in intensity farther from the sun, making Mercury too hot and the outer planets too cold. For Mercury, I assumed that Schiaparelli's contention that the planet kept one side to the sun at all times is true. As such, that face of the planet shields the areas behind sufficiently for meager life to grow there. For the other planets and for the habitable moons, I simply explain it as poorly understand atmospheric effects akin to those on the real world's Venus. From there, it simply requires an enormous stroke of luck for so many worlds to evolve life.
Royal Geographic Society's Guide to Mars
The planet Mars is a planet in decline. Signs abound of a once
thriving and powerful culture that built great stone cities, the
pyramids, and the canals, but somehow disappeared. All of the
technology of the race referred to as the Ancients is lost, leaving
their cities often lost in the sand and the canals running dry.
The planet is divided into three distinct bands of stable climate, since Mars lacks oceans or large mountain chains that would alter weather patterns. The central band, occupying the equator and extended north and south to about 40° latitude, is desert, once fed by the system of canals. At most one quarter of the canals still carry water, although others sometimes flood, and the course of the rest can be seen clearly. Most dead canals still carry water beneath the surface, occasionally rising to form an oasis and providing the best places to dig for wells.
Beyond 40° to about 70°lattitude, the canals are fed by shallow swamp, which in turn are fed by the polar ice caps. Above 70° lattitude, the temperature is so low as to form tundra and ice caps.
The Ancient's cities were built primarily in what is currently the desert region, though archeological evidence shows that Mars was once water rich, although never with significant oceans. Unknown climatic shifts forced the building of the canals, which are cut straight from the stone of the Martian surface.
ST -1 (-10), DX +1 (10), Attractive (5), Cultural Adaptability (25), Intuition (15), Overconfidence (-10), No Hair and Light Skin Pigment (-5)
High Martians resemble humans in almost every respect. Their features are somewhat softer, their skin is pink and more susceptible to sunburn, and they have no hair anywhere on their bodies whatsoever. Further, they have no outer ear, hearing instead through pits in the side of their heads. Perhaps more remarkable than this is that most humans find them to be attractive.
Their height and weight average slightly less than humans, though it is what would be expected for their strength.
Culture and Psychology
High Martians are so named because they were first encountered by German explorers in what later turned out to be cities of the Martian Ancients, though scientists are now certain that their species are in fact unrelated. Instead, the High Martians were copying the social structure of the Ancients as they remembered it, although they had none of the Ancient's technological secrets. This proved to be part of a larger pattern of High Martian cultural mimicry. As a species, they have no culture of their own and simply join the system of another race. The other Martian races accept mimicking High Martian as one of their own. If asked, the other races will say simply, "That is their way." Answers from the High Martians have been no more enlightening. Numerous High Martians have adopted Earth cultures, often serving as cultural attaches and diplomats all over the Solar System.
Language and Naming
It is not clear if High Martians have their own language, but the language spoken by communities living in Ancient cities use a sort of bastard combination of the other Martian languages. Their names are three syllables, formed by combining the last syllable of their father's name, the last syllable of their mother's name, and a syllable drawn from distant ancestry. For example, the son of Kyr-al-kan and Su-rish-al might be Kan-al-kur.
Jackson's Grey Martians
ST -3 (-20), DX +2 (20), HT +1 (10), Sensitive Smell (22), Temperature Tolerance (10), Running at HT-1 (2), Stealth at DX-1 (2), Kleptomania (-15), Short Lifespan (-15)
Grey Martians, first contacted by British explorer Every Jackson, resemble upright greyhounds. Their upper limbs end in three fingers and an apposable thumb. They have an excellent sense of smell, able to identify people based on smell, track effectively, detect general emotional states due to scent, as well as many other things.
They are 4" taller on average than their strength would indicate, although their weight is the same. Their lifespans are significantly shorter than those of humans, living only about three fourths as long.
Culture and Psychology
Many of the traditions of Grey Martians vary from group to group, and any one is far more likely to be an individual different from his tribe than any of the other Martian races. All Grey Martians, however, share the tradition of proving their personal prowess through theft. Although some do steal for gain, that is generally not the case. Rather, it is simply to prove that the Martian is capable of such an act. A Grey Martian will, for example, gladly return all items taken if asked, especially if such an act results in compliments on their abilities. They often take offense, conversely, at being accused of thievery and being demeaned for their acts. It is common practice on many of the trading posts of Mars for Grey Martians to drop their catch at the door on the way out simply as a way of proving what they could have taken to the shop keeper and other patrons. Nonetheless, problems can arise when humans or other non-Martians misunderstand. The other Martian races, however, take this peculiar habit of the Grey Martians in stride.
Grey Martians live primarily in the swamps and tundra near the Martian poles, though some are nomadic and travel well into the desert. The largest number, though, sail shallow boats in the swamps and canals, making a living from fishing, hunting, trapping, and foraging. They live in small, permanent villages, constructed by current techniques. Few have more than 100 individuals.
Language and Naming
All Grey Martians speak a common language, Grunar. It much like the communication of Earth dogs, although careful pronunciation results in an enormous and specific vocabulary.
Names are almost without exception drawn from Martian legend of all races, such as Kugras, Simchas, Kris-dal-pa, and Prabmukg. Recently, Grey Martians have included the names of non-Martian heroes as well, such as Gilgamesh and Achilles.
ST +4 (45), HT +3 (30), DR 1 (5), Bad Temper (-10), Bully (-10), Overconfidence (-10), Paranoia (-10), Code of Honor: Avenge Insults, Protect Companions/Tribe, Honor Debts and Promises (-10)
Dark Martians resemble brawny humans in many respects. Their skin is thick and can vary in color from red to brown or even dark grey. Their heads are broad and flat, dominated by two large tusks that thrust upward from their mouths. They lack body hair, although their facial and head hair grows quickly. Straight, black hair predominates, although brown hair and kinky hair are not unheard of.
They have two large fingers and a thumb on each hand. Their manual dexterity is equivalent to that of humans despite this, although items such as rifles must be modified to allow access to their much larger digits. Dark Martians have only two toes, and these lack articulation.
On average, Dark Martians are 3"taller and 25 lbs. heavier than a human of equivalent strengths. Ignoring death due to combat, their lifespans are comparable to those of humans.
Culture and Psychology
Dark Martians live primarily in the deserts around Mars' central belt. Most are nomads, raising various forms of Martian cattle, but a significant number of craftsmen and traders reside on the edge of the few remaining canals. Regardless of their lifestyle, however, they are guided by an ages old code of honor that legend claims is handed down from the Martian Ancients. It establishes tribal family units ruled by the oldest male. Mating is regulated by class; the higher classed a male, the larger number of wives he may have. Lower classed males may be forbidden from mating altogether.
Dark Martian legend features a rivalry between two great tribes and their allies, a conflict that some historians contend occurred shortly after the disappearance of the Ancients and involved all of the Dark Martian population. The inter-tribe animosity no longer exists, but the war and insuing chaos is generally blamed for the Dark Martian's paranoia and the initial reports from explorers that described them as savages.
Language and Naming
Dark Martians speak a range of tribal languages. Although estimates place the number of dialects at over 50, all are related in one way or another the so-called "Dark Tongue" (M/H). It is extremely guttural and glib. Pronunciation is rather imprecise, allowing many different sounding words to have the same meaning.
Names are formed from the name of the tribe followed by the word "kurxg", followed then by either ruling title or personal profession and then followed by a personal name. For example, Grakh kurxg Kalx Kurikhad would he Kurikhad, the Kalx (warrior) of clan Grakh.
ST -2 (-15), DX +1 (10), HT -3 (-20), Cultural Adaptability (25), Recovery (10), Language Talent +3 (6), Dwarfism (-15), Slave Mentality (-40), Follow Individual Masters (-1)
Low Martians are small humanoids with wide, flat heads and broad noses. Their skin is generally tan in color, though it can range from peach to olive. Almost all Low Martians have a shock of thick hair on their heads, in addition to short and lightly colored body hair. They average 4' tall, but can weigh as much as 150 lbs. This, added to the distribution of body fat, gives them a pot belly even when malnourished.
Culture and Psychology
Low Martians lack any form of initiative or personal interest, doing only what they are ordered to do. This casts them in the natural role of slaves, a role they fill for the other three Martian races. Low Martians can be very intelligent, but will only use their skills or provide their opinion if directed. They attach themselves to a master for life, and will serve that master until they die. If the master should die first, Low Martians will either attach themselves to one of their former master's family or companions or wander aimlessly in search of a new master. Low Martian servants can be directed to obey someone besides their master, though their masters orders will always come first. They can follow complex orders, such as, "Eat dinner at 5:00 unless instructed otherwise. Goto the market if food drops below two days supply," but they will follow them explicitly. For example, they will go to the market when food drops below the given point, regardless of the time of day.
Although Low Martians will never rebel against cruel treatment, but it is frowned upon by the other Martian races, even to some degree the normally brutal Dark Martians. Low Martians are a valuable resource and although they may lead Spartan lives, they are never abused senselessly.
Language and Naming
Low Martians respond to whatever name their master gives them and at the order of their master that name can change at any time. Similarly, they have no language of their own and will use the language of their masters in less directed otherwise.
The following are a few animals common to Mars. Their names in
English are given first, and then their Dark Tongue names. The
wildlife of Mars, although not as diverse as that of Earth, is
nonetheless widely varied. What follows is only a sampler.
Forest Boars (Yilsanid)
Grey Martians make extensive use of Yilsanid, creatures similar to Earth boars, in the role of hunting dogs and draft animals. Yilsanid range in size from 50 to 400 lbs, depending on breed. They most closely resemble African warthogs, having wide mouths and significant tusks. The largest Yilsanid are even used as riding animals.
Desert Boars (Yilksinak)
Larger than Yilsanid, Yilksinak resemble a cross between a boar and a hippopotamus. Weighing in between one and two tons, Yilksinak are incredibly strong and resilient. Furthermore, they store water between their muscles and outer skin, allowing them to survive for long periods in the desert. Although slow, they can march for long periods. This and their relative intelligence make them excellent mounts. Dark Martians use them extensively.
Like something straight out of Indian mythology, these scraggly pack dogs are feared and avoided by the Martian races. Reportedly capable of breathing flaming gas and passing on a form of rabies through their bite, Lexshikadka have been encountered only a few times by Europeans.
Martian Crocodile (Draxgurk)
Draxgurk have wide bodies and very narrow but powerful jaws. They are never seen in the desert, but are common predators in the shallow swamps of northern and southern Mars. Draxgurk skin ranges in color from grey to black and is both heavy and flexible, making it excellent for a variety of uses.
Sand Urchins (Krgadaxx)
These small spiky lizards are fairly common in some parts of the Martian desert. They take on large amounts of air and spread out their spines, either rolling along in the stiff desert winds or burying in the ground. If their spines find purchase in a creature, a chemical process begins that draws water slowly out of the body of the urchin's victim. Once the water has filled the urchins air sack, it pulls back its spines and falls away. If any spines remain in, the slow loss of water will continue.
The planet Jupiter is the largest in the solar system, marked
by bands of shifting clouds and the prominent red spot which is
itself much larger than the Earth. Little is known of the region
beneath the upper atmosphere. Although many nations have sent
ships into the clouds, none have returned. The reason for this
is a matter of much debate in the scientific world, with theories
ranging from fatally high air pressure to hostile natives.
The planet is mostly of interest for its moons. Although Jupiter actually has fifteen known moons, four can be seen from Earth. The Gallilean satellites are (in order from innermost to outermost) Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
The moon Io is under constant pressure from the tidal force of Jupiter's gravitational pull. The result is extensive volcanic activity and a barely breathable atmosphere, rich in sulfur and dust. No life has ever been discovered on Io and surely no large lifeforms live there. Given its harsh conditions, however, scientists have not been eager to research and no definitive statement on the existence of Ionian life can be made.
Europa is far enough away from Jupiter to avoid the tidal flexing that spawned chaotic Io. It also seems neither to have developed life or an atmosphere capable of retaining heat. As such, it is a massive ball of ice. The curious thing is the presence of huge cracks and fissures of dark color all along its surface. Some scientists speculate that some form of life could exist at the bottom of these cracks, but the cold and airless environment leave it as open a question as that of life on Io. Even without further data, respectable scientist generally admit that the chance of life on Europa is astronomically low.
Ganymede is the only of the Saturnian moons known to harbour advanced life. Ganymede's surafce, which is larger than that of Mercury, looks like a deep jungle from pole to pole. On closer examination, however, it proves to be a carefully controlled environment. The forest floor is clear of underbrush. There are no dread tropical diseases, as with the jungles on Earth. This is all the doing of the extraordinary Green Men [see below]. Plant life dominates Ganymede. There are no animals aside from the few primitive insects that aid in pollination and seed spreading.
Callisto, slightly smaller than Mercury, has a temperate and fair climate through most of its surface throughout the year. The land is smooth and the soil is rich. Although its native life never developed beyond fern-like plants, crops from Earth can be grown year round. All of the major powers have colonial farms on Callisto, and although the farms are so far fairly small, the moon's size makes disputes seem inevitable in the future.
Drone: 10/Vox: 35 Points / Healer: 70 Points
ST -4 (-30), DX +2 (20), IQ +1 (10), HT +1 (10), Absolute Timing
(5), Peripheral Vision (15), Recovery (10), Limited Regeneration
(20), Disquieting Appearance (-10), Dependency: Water and Sunlight
(-10), Personality Shifts Between Day and Night: Impulsive/Lazy
(-20), Increased Life Support (-10)
Vox: Universal Translator (25)
Healer: Psionic Healing Power 5 (15), Fatigue +5 (15), Healing at IQ+3 (10), Life Extension at IQ+3 (10), Metabolism Control at IQ+3 (10)
Although Green Men have a humanoid form and many animal characteristics, they insist firmly that they. like all native life on Ganymede, are plants. They use photosynthesis to form almost all the nutrients they need. During the day, they are active, almost manic, moving rapidly through the sun. At night, they settle in bodies of stagnant water, where they almost submerge themselves until dawn. Although easy to understand most places in the Solar System, it should be remembered that the sky over Ganymede is dominated by both the Sun and Jupiter, creating a strange day/night cycle that complicates this behavioral pattern.
A Green Man's dorsal surface is covered by growth ranging in color from dark green to black that resemble large moss or lichen. It is, however, part of the Green Man's body, providing a large surface area for photosynthesis. The ventral surface varies from light green to brown and grey. The texture is much like the bark of young trees, forming thin limbs that terminate in bulbous joints. Their hands have three long fingers and apposable thumb., while their feet have only three long toes.
The Green Men's faces have a single compound eye that gives them a wide field of vision. Below the eye is a thin mouth that, even when closed, does not fully cover the rows of small , flat teeth that Green Men use to break down the plants that complete their diet. Although they require very specific nutrients from the small amount of food they eat, almost every planet in the Solar System has some sort of fauna that will serve. Their faces are surrounded by large manes of the same stuff that cover their backs.
Three types of Green Men have been observed: the Vox, who can speak the language of any intelligent creature; the Healers, who can cure disease and injury; and the Drones, who are fully functional, but lack any special power. They are not discernable by appearance, and often the only way for a non-Green Man to tell the difference is to ask. The mechanism of the Vox and Healers' special abilities is unknown, but it is clear that the powers are hereditary. Rumours abound that other, more powerful forms exist or that the Drones harbour some dark, secret power, but no reliable confirmation has been found.
Green Men weigh what would be expected for their strength, but average 5'10" tall, a full five inches taller than might be expected! Whatever the reason, most other races find the Green Men's looks rather disturbing.
Culture and Psychology
Green Man psychology shifts radically from the day to the night. Although comparable to psychotic mood swings found in some humans, it is important to note that the condition is natural and unavoidable. Green Men take it in stride, fighting it when need be, but living with it the rest of the time. As a side effect of their tie to the day/night cycle, Green Men always know how much longer the sun (or Jupiter) will be in the sky, or how long until it will rise, even when in dark buildings, or below the ground.
Although intelligent, the Green Men lack an organized society. In general, they travel in groups of 5-8, usually one Healer, one Vox, and the rest Drones. Rule is by concensus, disagreements causing fragmentation of the group.
Since the first British landing on Ganymede, the Green Men have been invaluable to the Empire. Fair treatment and careful negotiation by Brigadier Marshford secured exclusive contact rights for the British, rights which the Green Men applied to all Ganymede! As a result, Ganymede is the only planet or moon anywhere in the Solar System to have been utilized by only one national power.
The benefits of the arrangement were enormous. Green Healers were responsible for the recovery and insuing strength of Queen Victoria. A second unsuspected result came when Godfrey, a Vox with the party of Green Men touring the Earth on the H.M.S. Golden Rod, announced that he wished to speak with the creatures that had called to him from the sea. Much to the surprise of the Golden Rod's crew, he meant the whales! After consulting with the Crown, Godfrey helped British negotiators arrange a treaty with the whales and dolphins. The British promised to end whaling in Imperial waters and to destroy any foreign whaling ships encountered by British war vessels. In return, the cetaceans agreed to provide intelligence on events at sea, in effect assuring the supremacy of the British Navy, as well as providing aid to British ships in distress.
Language and Naming
The Green Men's language is impossible for outsider's to learn, since it consists of everything from musical tones and clicks to gestures and subtle expression. The Green Men, however can learn any language that is M/A or easier. More complex languages are beyond the abilities of their voice boxes. The Vox, of course, can communicate in any language intuitively.
When among aliens Green Men take on names that are appropriate in the host culture. They only choose first names or familiar forms, however, making for some confusion. The number of Green Men named "John" is an example. Despite the problems, the Green Men refuse to take on surnames.