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BFG : Plasma guns. Big Creepy-Crawlies : The Kafer have some insectoid traits, hence the human name for them German for "beetle". The Xiang are also vaguely lobster-like. Binary Suns : A large portion of the systems on the Near Star List are double systems, and many human colony worlds therefore have two suns. Bizarre Alien Biology : In keeping with their Starfish Aliens status, all of the alien races have unusual biology when compared to humans: The Kafer analog to adrenaline makes them smarter.
It also means that regular violence is necessary to keep their civilization from falling apart when they get too stupid from lack of stimulation. The Eber have very narrow connections between the different specialized lobes of their brains, giving them all a case of Split Personality when they switch their consciousness between lobes.
The Klaxun are Plant Aliens who hibernate during the long winter on their planet, and sight is a new evolutionary development that hasn't yet spread through the whole population. Their thought processes are quite slow by human standards.
The Pentapods have no sense of individuality and don't differentiate between themselves and their biological technology. It's because the Pentapods humanity knows are actually the sentient biological robots of vast underwater organisms who use them to explore the galaxy The Sung are perhaps the most human-like in their outlook on life, but they are a Winged Humanoid species with four eyes, half of which see into the infrared, and they believe they have a moral duty to enslave lesser species.
The lobster-like Xiang change sex as they age, and are all tied to a symbiotic plant called a "dirt mother" for a good portion of their lives, and therefore can't travel much until they reach the adult male stage. They have no desire for advanced technology, prefering to pursue artistic expression.
Cool Airship : Blimps and zepplins have made a comeback, being used for cargo and passenger transport. Cool Starship : The American Kennedy class cruisers are the fastest ships in space and well-armed to boot. The French Suffren class cruiser that plays a central role in Mission: Arcturus and the Astronomischen Rechen-Institut's Bayern in its namesake module might qualify as well.
Corralled Cosmos : The limitations on the Stutterwarp drive mean that if systems are more than 7.
The American Arm is a dead-end because of this. The Sung had solar sails and ion drives. Manchuria and Canada had stutterwarp ships. The Sung capitulated rather quickly. The War of German Reunification - France, already exhausted by the Central Asian War to got curb stomped by the Germans, with France itself nearly invaded, and were forced to allow German reunification. Until then France was pretty much the undisputed world leader.
Death World : Several of humanity's colony worlds are quite dangerous, and most of the outposts are on worlds without breathable atmospheres. Deflector Shields : Some starships have magnetic fields holding ablative particles in suspension that work like these, to protect against incoming lasers or particle weapons.
Determined Homesteader : Many of Earth's colonists are these. Earth Is the Center of the Universe : Earth is the center of human-controlled space, and the Kafer are the only other race known to control more than a handful of planets. Earth That Was : a variant in one of the many little alien secrets known only to the GM: the Ebers' mysterious "lost colony" is actually their original nuked homeworld.
The Empire : France inaugurated the Third French Empire in just 2 years before the setting , but France has really been the major power on Earth since the Twilight War.
They're not necessarily evil, however. Everything Trying to Kill You : Some of the planets humans have colonized are quite dangerous. Aurore in particular has acid-spewing crawling shag carpets and tree-sized mushrooms with foot-long claws that will try to eat humans even though we are deadly poisonous to them. Cold Mountain has flying blinds and burrowing rigatoni that try to kill you.
Not to mention the flying hollow sharks full of glass knives Fantastic Racism : Between humans and aliens. Humans are viewed as boogeymen by the Kafer, while humans see Kafers essentially as space orcs. The Slaver War fought between Manchuria and Canada and the Sung was caused because the Sung believed they had a moral duty to enslave the more primative Xiang.
Faster-Than-Light Travel : The stutterwarp drive "jumps" the ship instantly a few hundred meters, and does it hundreds of thousands of times per second to reach faster-than-light speeds. It also has two built-in limitations. The drive rapidly loses efficiency in a gravity well; taking off from the surface of a planet or even maintaining orbit below a certain altitude via stutterwarp alone is impossible.
In addition, ships must "discharge" their drives in a gravity well every 7. First Contact : This has already happened a few times, and there was even a war fought and won against the Sung, but most of the races humans have met to this point are more primitive than they are. Some of the published adventures involve first contacts as well. Fungus Humongous : Aurore features mushrooms that grow up to four meters high. Heavyworlder : The colonists on King have been genetically modified to survive in the heavy gravity there, and need rebreathers to survive in more earthlike thinner atmospheres.
They are also short and immensely strong. Hostile Weather : Present on many human colonies, and a theme in the adventure Energy Curve. Hufflepuff House : The French Arm was the main focus of the published materials and was the center of the Kafer War meta-plot. The Chinese Arm has three alien races in it, one of which is featured and further detailed in Ranger. The American Arm, on the other hand, has one interesting high gravity planet and It's just a dead end nobody else wants.
Until the adventure in Challenge magazine where a brown dwarf gives humanity a back door into Kafer space. Humans Are Special : Humans are one of the first races to develop the Stutterwarp drive in our part of space. Most of the other alien races encountered in the printed adventures and background are more primitive, like the Sung, or have regressed to a pre-spaceflight technology, like the Eber.
Humans also control the largest number of worlds of all the races they've encountered. Humanity isn't too special though: the Kafer and Pentapods have also developed Stutterwarp and the Kafer control a small interstellar empire.
Innocent Aliens : The Xiang and the Klaxun are both stone-age primatives and relatively peaceful. The Xiang were enslaved by the Sung until the humans fought a war on their behalf and the Klaxun world is being scouted by the Kafer when humans first meet them.
The Ylii in the Kafer sourcebook and Challenge magazine, technically several related races and species forming a society together, have made themselves almost incapable of aggression after having nearly wiped themselves out in a genocidal war. It's this pacifism that has saved them from being completely eradicated by the Kafer.
Kafer find it literally mind-numbingly boring to kill them and therefore find no urgency in killing or subjugating them.
ISO Standard Human Spaceship : Most human ships are indeed blocky, gray, utilitarian vessels, often with large spinning sections for gravity. In a possible subversion, Kafer ships are generally like this too. Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better : Most of the nations of Earth use high-tech assault rifles as their primary weapons, though they also have lasers.
Living Ship : The Pentapods have these. Mega-Corp : Several are in the game, and some are more or less beneavolent. Meta Plot : The Kafer war. In they are still part of Mexico.
Texas was conquered by Mexico too but successfully rebelled in , becoming independent. Mexico also annexed all of the central American nations north of Panama during the 22nd century. Military Science-Fiction : A strong influence on the game, with several of the printed adventures centering around the Kafer War and putting the players in the roles of mercenaries or soldiers. Mirror Chemistry : Many garden worlds have dextro-based biospheres, rendering their plants and animals inedible if not poisonous to humans.
Colonists get around this by importing "pay dirt" from Earth; they isolate and sterilize patches of ground, mix in the pay dirt, wait for the flora, fauna, and fungi that came with it to establish themselves, and start planting vegetables. Until the crops start coming in, however, it's food packs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the Bayern module, characters who enter the cluster nodes created by the AGRA Intelligence may end up mirrored due to accidentally being rotated through the fourth dimension; fortunately, the Bayern's labs can provide dextro food to sustain them.
In order to engage in combat they must be physically abused, which stimulates them into increased intelligence and combat ability.
This abuse is provided by the Kafer officers who are more intelligent. Naming Your Colony World : Earth's colonies include just about all the variations.
No Warping Zone : The stutterwarp's efficiency drops off greatly in a gravity well, meaning stutterwarp ships are still going really fast within a solar system, but no longer exceed the speed of light.
They can just barely maintain orbit around a world.
Organic Technology : The Pentapods are big on it, since their species evolved underwater and never had the option of using metal or fire in their industrial development.
This leads to a good deal of human-Pentapod trade, as each species is fascinated by the other's way of doing things.
Poison Is Corrosive : The animal life on Aurore and some of the plants make use of acids in attacking their prey. Because of incompatible biology these acids are also poisonous to humans. Powered Armor : The major nations all have their own designs with a few crossing over to the Mini-Mecha end of the scale.
Proud Warrior Race Guy : The Kafer only really feel alive when they are in combat, and it actually makes them smarter. Their whole society is constructed around giving their citizens regular adrenaline jolts. Psychic Powers : Humans don't have them apparently , but some of the aliens in the adventures do. Rancher : Many colonists are this.
Each player controls an Earth-based enterprise seeking profit by driving the expansion of humanity into the Solar System and beyond. Launch an exploration mission to Mars. Mine the asteroids. Earn profit from exotic resources discovered on the Jovian moons. Discover microbial life in the subsurface oceans of Charon.
Decode exo-DNA to develop radiation resistant human pioneers. Undertake a mission to Alpha Centauri in a generation ship. Break through technological barriers to achieve faster than light travel. Establish a colony in the Tau Ceti star system. Each of the three eras is played on a different board: The first era, Mariners, covers exploration and development out to Mars. In Planeteers, players settle the outer solar system. In Starfarers, players send missions to nearby star systems and establish interstellar colonies.