Category Archives: Aliens

Anything about aliens.

The Chanur Saga

The Chanur Saga is not one book. It is three books in an omnibus edition. These books are written by C.J. Cherryh who also has written two more novels in this “universe” that is called the Compact.

For Traveller fans, the most interesting aspect of the books are the race called the Hani. There are lots of characteristics of the Hani that are a lot like the Aslan of Traveller.

  • First (the most obvious), the Hani are cat-folk.
  • Then, just like in Traveller, it is the females that are useful.
  • Just like in Traveller, there are clans that are run by males.

I asked C.J. Cherryh and Marc Miller about the influences between her books and Traveller.

C.J. Cherryh said that she never has heard of the Aslan. (So it’s just like H. Beam Piper and the Sword Worlds then, just a bit more recent).

Aslan or Hani ???

Anyway, these books are great. There are a few more races that are described. There is a map over the Compact. There are lots of ideas that can be used in Traveller. Making a subsector map over the Compact and using this as an ATU would also be possible.

The main characters are female Hani. They are the crew of the ship The Pride of Chanur. They find a Human male that has escaped from a race called the Kif (that are a bit like the Vargr). The Kif wants the human back. That is just the beginning. I shouldn’t post any more spoilers here.

Aslan Bombshell

AslanWhile chatting with C. J. Cherryh and Marc Miller about the Hani from the Chanur novels and the Aslan from Traveller, Marc Miller said that he “envisioned that the Terran scout who first contacted them saw the resemblance to Narnia’s Aslan and used the name.”

When I commented about the idea from GURPS Traveller that the Aslan was discovered by Turkish explorers, Marc said “No one asked me. 🙁 “

The Major Races in an ATU setting

There are six major races in the Official Traveller Universe. All are very well described in a number of books in different Traveller rules versions. This is a good source of information to help you with the races for your own Alternate Traveller Universe.

The problem with the major races in the OTU is that they all are placed in the OTU and a few of them may be difficult to re-use your own ATU. Described below are my opinions (in alphabetic order) why the races may be good or problematic for re-use in an ATU.

There are lots of reasons for creating your own ATU. One reason may be that you are bored with the OTU, another that you don’t like all the conflicting canon and another reason may be that you just want to create your own universe.

Alsn CoynAslan:

Aslan are a race of catlike aliens. Even though that might seem like a sci-fi cliché, the Aslans are well described and would probably work well in an ATU with only some minor changes.

The Aslans have been described at about the same time as the Chanur novels was written. It is difficult to guess what cross contamination that has occurred. My guess is that it was in both ways.

Update: While chatting with Cj Cherryh and Marc Miller about the Hani from the Chanur novels and the Aslan from Traveller, Cj Cherryh said that she has “never heard of (the) Aslan” (from the Traveller RPG).

The DroyneDroyne:

Spoiler warning! Mark the hidden text below to make it visible.

The Droyne is one of the most important races in the OTU. They (as the Ancients) transplanted humaniti to many worlds in charted space. If you don’t want this in your ATU, then the Droyne cannot be the ancients.

The Droyne is well described and would work well in an ATU as an old mysterious race. You may want to ignore (or change) the secret part that is hidden above.

Hiver CoynHiver:

The Hivers are the starfish aliens that actually are starfish. They are also good at manipulating other races to do what they want. They are also very good at mathematics and use a base-6 system. Their computers and robotics are very advanced. The Hivers don’t like ground combat and use other races to help them with that.

The Hivers could work well as a strange race in an ATU setting.

HumanitiHumaniti:

There are the Solomani, the Vilani and the Zhodani and lots of minor human races. In the OTU all human races (except the Solomani) has been taken from Earth a long time ago and they have then evolved independently. This may seem like a stupid idea to re-use in an ATU unless you are a trekkie or likes von Däniken.

Humans from Terra (Solomani) can be borrowed from the OTU. But these are not the good guys, so you may want to change them.

Other human races will be more difficult to re-use in an ATU.

K'Kree CoynK’Kree:

These are horsemen or centaurs. In the early versions of Traveller, they were actually called Centaurs. I think they can be a good foe in an ATU with their vegetarianist agenda.

Big strange races like this (with strange motivations) usually work best as NPCs.

VargrVargr:

In the OTU these dog people are uplifted Terran dogs. Although Vargrs are one of the best described races in Traveller, they belong in the OTU and cannot really fit into an ATU as they are described.

If they are uplifted in another way than in the OTU or if they are not actually dogs (just like the Aslan are not cats) then they could work.

Summary:

Works well: Aslan, Hiver, Solomani, K’kree

Problematic: Droyne, Vilani, Zhodani, Vargr

 

Idol Fancy – Trade Pioneering in Mowbrey Subsector

Patron: Noble, Art Collector.
Recommended Skills: Trader, Liaison, Admin, Combat Skills, Psionics.
Required Equipment: none
Players: 2-6 Zhodani.

On Zdovesil (Anika 1212 A65588A-9) the characters are contacted by Eiliviatstlas, a high-ranking subsector Noble and Official. She has 1 ton of Government Dispatches to be delivered to Retlkasrnz (Mowbrey 1712 D8AA87A-7) which is administered from Anika subsector. She will pay the characters 10 kCr to personally see the cargo in the hands of the Consulate Governor. If the characters do not have access to a Jump-2 ship she will second a Scout and an Intendant pilot from the Consulate Navy. She will not state the nature of the documents, but will say they are routine but time sensitive communications.

Once at Retlkasrnz with a completed mission, Eiliviatstlas wonders if she could then request a small favour… and such favours from Zhodani nobility are not to be declined lightly. She displays a unique abstract stone sculpture to the characters. She obtained it from a trader who claimed it was sculpted by a primitive, non-human minor race living in on New Keento (Mowbrey 1813 C879758-9). Eiliviatstlas is a noted and shrewd art collector when not working hard as an administrator. She is convinced that the esthetic qualities of these pieces would fetch excellent value within the Consulate art markets. She requests the characters make a quick jump over to New Keento and investigate this and secure samples or possibly a trade agreement.

While she cannot use the public purse to finance this small mission, she will draw up a contract that will give the characters each a small piece of the action when and if the sculptures are obtained and marketed. She supplies the characters with 1500 Cr to buy trade goods to barter with the TL-1 sophonts.

Alien Art?
Alien Art? – image from wikimedia – Public Domain

Referee’s Information:
The voyage to Retlkasrnz itself is routine. There is no difficulty in delivering the documentation. At New Keento the group is greeted by the young Zhodani Ambassador who will insist on accompanying the group, supplying a watercraft for the voyage. The New Keentonians are obsequious to the Zhodani, but insist on several permits be bought for travel to the reservation and allowing the players an effective Law Level of 5. Permits # 1D6, 500 Cr each. Admin skill allows a negative DM to a minimum of 1.

1. The sophonts live in a far off archipelago. They indeed produce the sculptures, using their teeth and claws as carving tools. They are quite pleased to create more in exchange for foodstuffs, tools and fabrics. The players must work to earn the trust of the sophonts and construct a logistical chain. Upon delivery and the establishment of a trade agreement each character will receive 1000 Cr (+20%-120% fluctuation) each year as a share in the market. Throw 10+ each year for the market to dry up and payments cease.

2. As 1, however there is also a group of traders from the Avalar Consulate on world, investigating the same sculptures. While erstwhile clients of the Zhodani, the Avalari are competitive and are motivated to corner the market. They are not hostile, but will engage in questionable practices and are not above monkey-wrenching and other sharp practices. Remember, some Avalari are psionic.

3. As 1, however a very large amphibian predator has migrated into a prized quarry. Usually the sophonts would conduct the appropriate rituals and wait for it to leave. If the off-worlders wish more sculptures, they request the Zhodani deal with the monstrosity more directly. The Zhodani Ambassador will insist on being part of any action against the creature.

4. The sophonts are not popular on New Keento, being neither native or human. They are restricted to this archipelago as a reservation and treated harshly if found elsewhere. Furthermore they are often harassed by sea-born piracy raids. Such as raid will take place while the characters are meeting with them. Raiders will approach on Motor Boats (Book 3) and are equipped spottily with blades, cudgels and a few firearms. While there will be many (3D at least) they are not expecting a fight from their placid victims.

5.The sculptures are actually a psionic focus. Upon investigation by a talented clairvoyant, it will be found the sculpture reduces psionic range cost when conducting clairvoyance or clairaudience (-1 psionic cost). Does Eiliviatstlas know this? Are the sophonts psionic?

6. As 5, there is a team of Imperial Scouts in silent orbit (their ship matches the PC’s in tonnage) taking interest in the players actions on New Keento. They have a Covert Talent as a crew member. They may become convinced the Zhodani has uncovered a new ‘psionic super-weapon’ and will stage a raid to obtain or destroy the sculptures.

Dushis Khurisi and other interesting expansions of the OTU

In the Traveller5 Book and in the Traveller5 CDROM we can read about a few interesting things that will expand the current “Charted Space” of the OTU to a galactic scale. There are a few hints that we can expect some epic adventures. If we look at the image of The GALAXY (p. 417 or in the CDROM) we can see many interesting things. In the map in the book these are called Scattered Hydrogen Societies. I have added these on the Milky Way map below.

MilkyWay Traveller5
Milky Way with information from Traveller5 added. Map from NASA. Public Domain.

From the top there is first Dushis Khurisi. Searching the interwebs I found it in Eaglestone’s Vilani Dictionary. The meaning is “poem“. This made me suspect that this was something from The Galaxiad. And there it is! Dashus Khurisi (slightly different spelling) is a Vilani Empire on the other side of the Galaxy.

In the Galaxiad Intro, the Abyssals, the Barren Worlds and the Essaray are also mentioned among many other interesting things. But there is no answer to what kind of Scattered Hydrogen Societies the SRAL and Denizens are. There are some notes about the Black Fleets that we remember from the Kickstarter Project (at the $ 25 level and above).

The first time I heard about the Barren Worlds was when Clifford Linehan was mapping the Zhodani Core Route. (His site is now offline.) He then discussed this with Marc Miller. That was 13 years ago. Marc must have been planning this a long time.

Angry Tweeties

The ship’s broker is approached about transporting a consignment of newborn Iptetean Tweeties, a species of genetically-modified pets that are increasing in popularity throughout the Foreven sector.

Iptetean Tweety
Iptetean Tweety : Picture from wikimedia. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later.

1. Unbeknownst to humaniti, the Iptetean Triapus, from which the Iptetean Tweety is modeled, is sentient. This sophont has a subsonic language and once had some measure of technological civilization before humaniti invaded its homeworld. Due to the species’ psychology, it went into hiding at the first sight of humans, abandoning their towns for the forests, their ancestral home. Explorers eventually captured them and made some into pets, and as these creatures were taken into space, they’ve seen that the humans have also created a technomagically-modified version of themselves, the Iptetean Tweeties, which if caught at a sufficiently young age can be taught the language and history of their unmodified kin.

One of the passengers (or crewmembers), who has a pet triapus, notices that their pet seems to be drawn to the tweeties, which are in a large pen in the ship’s hold. This is made noticeable due to the fact that whenever the triapus and the tweeties get into sufficiently close proximity, they begin what appears to be a massive “purr-session” that is actually a pleasure to witness. The loud, “tribble-like” purring, once it stops being funny, is innately soothing to the human ear. It is apparent that even without being able to see each other, both the Triapus and the Tweeties appear to be able to hear each other, and they appear to be very pleased or possibly excited with each others’ presence.

In truth, they are calling out to one another. The Triapus wants to obtain the release of these young Tweeties, but there’s nothing that it can realistically do to make this happen, so it finally resigns itself to teaching them what little it can and otherwise accepting the situation, as at least it is being well-fed by an affectionate albeit hideously ugly, alien master.

2. As #1, but the tweeties are adolescents, and they can understand the triapus quite well, as many of have already learned the triapi language. The essence of their conversation is yet another reiteration the typical lecture on how they must prepare for the day when a savior will be born who will lead them in a Great Strangling against humaniti, and that wherever they are taken in the universe, they must remember their sacred homeworld and the terrible indignity that has been perpetrated upon them by their evil overlords. In the meantime, however, they are reminded that they must play the part of pets, for the time to strike is not yet. Hence, for all practical purposes, nothing remarkable happens, at least from the perspective of the ship’s crew.

3. As #1, but the tweeties are mostly adults, and many of them want to bust out of captivity and are actively trying to recruit the triapus to help them. The triapus, however, has been treated exceedingly well by its master, who takes time to play with it on a daily basis and who also generously feeds it table scraps rather than forcing it to eat some sort of bland, homogenized, pet food. Hence, it has grown genuinely affection toward this human and towards humaniti in general, and therefore it won’t help the tweeties, forever making excuses. Rightly or wrongly, it claims that there’s a technomagical, hidden surveillance system in the cargo hold, and that if it were to help its brethren escape, suddenly all humans would know that all Triapi, and by extension all Iptetean Tweeties, are intelligent, and this would permanently sever any hope of eventual freedom. No matter what they do, the triapus argues, they must guard this secret, each and every one of them, until the prophesized Great Strangling.

4. As #3, but the triapus feels mistreated and so it will help the tweeties escape. Hilarity ensues as many of them pile into an airlock and manage to escape into a very, very large space.

5. As #4, but one or more of the tweeties thinks it knows how to destroy the ship by causing some major system to malfunction.

6. As #5, but the primary goal is to strangle the crew and passengers and somehow seize control of the ship.

Supplementary Library Data:

Piolin Enterprises. A subsidiary of BeastMasters, LIC, specializing in the genetic modification of various animal species for the exotic pets market.

Tweety. A registered trademark of Piolin Enterprises, the term is also informally synonymous for any of a variety of genetically-modified pets, particularly ones that incorporate the color yellow into their modifications. Etymologically, the word comes from one of Old Terra’s first genetically-modified, pet species, an African Grey parrot colored yellow and given oversized eyes as well as expanded cranial capacity. Prior to this, the word “Tweety” can be traced to the name of a once-popular, animated character.

Iptetean Triapus (pl. Triapi). An omniverious climber/trapper/strangler of the planet Iptete (Foreven 2334), this creature resembles a small, three-legged octopus, except that it is purple with red splotches, similar to the branches of the Kokimovno trees which it chiefly inhabits, and its “face” resembles a large, green, Kokimovno leaf, which numerous smaller creatures eat. Despite being hideously ugly, they emit a calming, subsonic purr that can be felt more than heard, and so have made popular pets, but not nearly as popular as their genetically-modified variant, the Iptetean Tweety.

Iptetean Tweety. A genetically-modified variant of the Iptetean Triapus that has two of its three eyes hugely expanded, whereas the third, remaining at its normal size, is perpetually hidden behind a large yellow face that is generally more appealing to customers. This Tweety also has what looks like two large, yellow ears, but these are non-functional. Legal note: Piolin Enterprises holds an Imperium-wide trademark for the term “Tweety” in relation to the marketing of pets and the statement “They’re ugly, but they’re cute” in relation to the marketing of genetically-modified animals.

Inspiration: Featherless chicken