Phri'sk Anyone?

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 9:06pm
When Star Frontiers originally came out, I soon had a copy in my hands. My friends either had Gamma World or D&D so here was a game I thought I could run, which I did for a bit. Eagerly I awaited new modules and new stories, especially in Dragon magazine.

I remember reading David "Zeb" Cook's story about how the evil Sathar were actually supposed to be a playable race and he presented the S'sessu as an optional race. I thought, neat. It's like the Vulcan-Romulan dicotomy of Star Trek.

Well, I didn't get to use the S'sessu much and eventually I moved on to other role playing games that seemd to have more meat to them, such as FASA's Stark Trek the Role Playing Game and Battle Tech. What FASA began to offer, which TSR didn't for Star Frontiers, were detailed books about different regions of space and planets.

Why did I have wait to get the Dramune Run to find out details about one star system? For the "Dark Side of the Moon," Kraatar in the Triskar system wasn't even on the original map, though it gives an interesting perspective on Vrusk society and its culture clash with the original human colonists.

Besides the Port Loran map, what the heck were the details of Gran Quivera other than it was UPF central?

But I'll get back to the S'sessu, the optional race that I've noted that some game masters seem to like and others couldn't give a slime trail about. When I got back into trying to run a Star Frontiers campaign recently, one of my children wanted to use them. I discovered this website and eagarly read other fans work, especially the different topics on the Sathar and Satharoids.

With that information, I decided to try to detail the S'sessu's "two small worlds" on the edge of Frontier space. So what will follow is my rendition, which is based on multiple other people's musing that is mixed with a bit of my own.

I just think it would be important to try to finish detailing the rest of the Frontier's worlds that haven't already been covered in Frontier Explorer and Star Frontiersman.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 9:08pm

System Data: Kashra’sk

Spectral Type: G4 V

Color: Yellow Main Sequence

Habitable Planets: Phri’sk

Major Trade Routes

·         S’seuden (New Phri’sk) – Distance: 7 light years

·         Gruna Garu – Distance: 10 light years

·         Minan (Fringeworthy) – Distance 12 light years

System History

Located on the fringe of the Vast Expanse, Kashra’sk is the home star system of the S’sessu. It has one habitable planet, Phri’sk, plus two rock planets – Kashra’sk I (Aepra’sk) and Kashra’sk II (Za’thora’sk).

Orbiting within 0.44 AU of its star with a period of 0.32 GST years, Aepra’sk is named after the legendary Aepra, the speedy S’sessu who was a messenger of the Great Worm.

The planet is irradiated by Kashra’sk and has heavy metal deposits of uranium and the like. It is home to several S’sessu mining operations that have to contend with the occasional earthquake and solar flares. Atmosphere: None. Gravity: 1.32.

The second world in the Kashra’sk system, Za’thora’sk, is named after the place in S’sessu legends where the great lizard beings that brought them to Phri’sk. It purportedly has an advanced ancient alien artifact and possible Tetrarch ruins. The S’sessu have established several small- to medium-sized colonies here, probing the secrets of the alien ruins. Orbital Radius: 0.75 AU, Period: 0.72 GST years, Gravity: 0.53, Atmosphere: Thin, toxic, Biosphere: Prokaryotic microbes.

Phri’sk is the home world of the S’sessu, a species of giant worms that are related to the Sathar and is detailed separately.

The S’sessu developed Void travel roughly 200 years ago and successfully charted a route to and back from the S’seuden star system with its one habitable planet (New Phri’sk) that they soon colonized. Next, the S’sessu made contact with a colony world of the Peelovans – the planet Fringeworthy in the Minan star system. Given the Peelovans’ secretive and wary nature, they’ve kept their home world’s location a secret, but they quickly put the S’sessu in contact with the Skree that live in the Imdali star system. S’sessu traders must go through the Peelovans’ system to reach the Skree.

After contact with the UPF, the S’sessu eventually opened a trade route to the Hydrae’s home star system, known in Pan-Gal as Gamma Hydrus. This trade route originates from S’seuden. A minor trade route was later opened from Kashra’sk to Rhianna (Alcazzar).

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 9:50pm

Planetary Brief


Moons: Four small moons – Seren’as, Pkon’as, Tra’tun’as and Sossla’as

Atmosphere: Dense, breathable

Hydrosphere: 59% water, 18% ice

Gravity: 0.96

Orbit Range: 1.14 AU

Population: Heavy – S’sessu, approximately 10 billion

Diameter: 11,432 kilometers

Axis tilt: 11.3 degrees

Length of Day: 26 hours, 41 minutes GST

Length of Year: 1.36 GST years

Average Surface Temp: 22 degrees Celsius; Min. -24 degrees C; Max. 52 degrees C

Native Life: No sentient native life.

Trade: High technology, Commerce, Industrial, Agriculture.

Planet Description:

The third planet from its star, Phri’sk is slightly smaller than Earth and offers a variety of climates including rather large polar regions. Phri’sk has many resources with its industries being primarily high technology, education, commerce, and agriculture.

One super powerful nation – S’sotra – dominates nearly a fourth of the planet while a half dozen other nations jockey for position with the others to win favors from the S’sotrans or to oppose them. When the UPF frigate Hellscar misjumped into the Kashra’sk system, it made contact with a S’sotran scout ship. Since acquiring the Hellscar as a prize in battle, the S’sostrans have sought to dominate negotiations with the UPF while acquiring high technology. 

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 9:39pm

Notable S’sessu Nations:

S’sostra is the dominant S’sessu nation. With nearly 3.8 billion citizens, it controls territory from the equatorial zone down to Phri’sk’s southern pole. It is ruled by an all-powerful dictator and supported by an oligarchy of regional leaders and major corporations.

Historically the S’sostrans have expanded by absorbing allied nations/clans along with conquering territory where required. They were the first to develop interplanetary travel and discovered the Tetrarch ruins on Za’thora’sk, which led to the development of Void travel. The S’sostrans have not absorbed the other nations on Phri’sk because they believe that having rivals allows them to keep their competitive edge.

After making first contact with the United Planetary Federation, the S’sostrans have pursued a closer trade relationship with the Frontier. Although there are fears that the S’sessu could ally with the Sathar, the S’sostran dictator once told the first UPF ambassador, Franco Capone who was the captain of the Hellscar, “to make it worth our while to trade with you.”

It is believed that the S’sostrans are worried that the Sathar would try to subjugate and destroy their culture.

Ssar’phesk is the second largest nation on Phri’sk with 1.2 billion citizens and the main rival of S’sostra. While not as powerful as the S’sessu superpower, it was the first to make contact with an alien race – the Peelovans, which also put them into contact with the Skree.

Pho’Trass’Nsk is the third largest nation on Phri’sk with 480 million citizens and aggressively colonized Phri’sk’sree (New Phri’sk) in the S’seuden system. It survives by trying to play the S’sostrans and the Ssar’pheskians off against each other by alternatively allying with one or the other.  Its citizens are called Pho’Trassh – which has spawned a number of jokes in the Frontier when it was translated into Pan-Gal. One Dralasite joke, for example, deals with a human taking a S’sessu out “for trash.” The S’sostrans accuse the Pho’Trassh of being untrustworthy. Given the species’ general manner of one-sidedly changing business and diplomatic deals for a better advantage, the S’sostrans’ warning is generally ignored by other races.

Usalas’sk is a medium nation of 180 million citizens in Phri’sk’s northern hemisphere near the polar regions. It is surrounded by steep, jagged mountains. Notably, its soils are renowned for their healing qualities – for S’sessu – and are in great demand by its trading partners. This has led to the growth of an entire industry for artificially enhanced soils.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 9:45pm

Phri’sk's Moons

Seren’as orbits Phri’sk in 8.6 days. It is an oblong body believed to be an asteroid that the planet captured in its orbit long ago and features ancient mines, possibly made by the Tetrarch Societies. With little remaining mineral wealth, The S’sostrans turned it into a military base for its hull size 2 scout/bombers. Astronomers believe the moon is slowly spiraling down toward Phri’sk and will break apart within 8 million to 9 million years.

Pkon’as and Tra’tun’as share the same orbit around Phri’sk but are on opposite sides of the planet. Both have a thin atmosphere along with trace elements of water, nitrogen and methane. Pkon’as is red, due to iron oxide in its soil while Tra’tun’as is a muddy brown. Both complete their orbits in 24.3 days and it is believed that they may have been artificially set in place.

Pkon’as has small colonies from several S’sessu nations while Tra’tun’as has been wholly claimed by the S’sostrans.

Sossla’as orbits Phri’sk in 58.3 days and is a small, rocky moon. Ssar’phesk and Pho’Trass’Nsk have established small bases here.

Artificial Satellites

Phri’sk is orbited by several small research space stations and two armed docking stations – one operated by S’sostra and the other by Ssar’phesk. Both rival nations have shipyards in orbit, though the S’sostrans are in the process of upgrading theirs to the top-of-the-line Frontier standards. They have also stated that they want to build a UPF-style space fortress though many military analysts doubt that they are that technologically advanced.

Government, Law & Citizens’ Attitudes

Phri’sk does not have a world government, but rather one dominant superpower, two other major powers and dozens of medium- to small-size nations and even areas that are controlled by criminal clans. Laws vary widely, but generally are set to favor those who have power so they can keep their power.

Many S’sessu leaders remain in power because the worms under them believe that one day, they too can advance in prestige and “rags to riches” – or “slime to riches” – stories are popular.  

Technology and Military Forces

When they were first contacted, the S’sessu were generally considered to be less technologically advanced than the Frontier societies or the Sathar. Since then, S’sessu governments and companies have aggressively moved to acquire higher technology through various trade deals with mega corporations and smaller firms.

In turn, the Oni-Senate Corporation of Rupert’s Hole (Cassidine) – a manufacturer of less fancy, discount priced products (i.e. often cheap knockoffs of sometimes questionable quality) has opened several manufacturing facilities on the S’sessu worlds. The worms are willing customers and distributors of Oni-Senada goods whether or not they are labeled as “Pan-Galaxy” or “Steel & Streal.”

The S’sostrans are, by far, the most technologically advanced of the S’sessu nations, but before the Second Sathar War they were incapable of building any craft larger than a destroyer. They had a large number of hull size 2 ships that they called scout/bombers. They, the Pho’Trassh and the Ssar’pheskians quickly became buyers of surplus UPF Spacefleet ships and equipment, often retrofitting them to be more comfortable to the worm’s physiology. 

Tetrarch Societies Ruins

One Tetrarch Societies pyramid exists on Phri’sk and is found in S’sostran territory near one of its major cities. The ruins on the planet Za’thora’sk are probably that of a small research colony. The artifact there has been referred to as the “Wonder” and is some sort of large automated machine/computer that apparently is partially functioning.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 10:13pm

Unique S’sessu Items

Loam Soil of Usalas’sk. A region of the S’sessu nation-state of Usalas’sk on the planet Phri’sk is known for its medicinal soils that help heal scraps and minor cuts, though it mostly provides the worms with a soothing effect. As a consequence, there is a great demand for Usalas’sk loam soils – some of dubious quality – or other soils that have been synthetically enhanced.

A high-quality Usalas’sk soil will enhance a S’sessu’s healing abilities, potentially up to an additional 3 stamina points per day above the normal healing rate. Such soils, however, will not help with radiation sickness, poisoning, cancer, or some other debilitating diseases.

Medium quality soil may enhance a S’sessu’s healing rate by 1 to 2 extra stamina points. While average to poor soils would probably only offer a soothing feeling.

The well-to-do S’sessu can purchase certified, high-quality synthetic Usalas’sk soils for 400 Cr (natural soils cost upwards of 800 Cr) per cubic meter. Such soils can be placed in anything from a sleeping bed – with microbots that carefully groom the dirt daily, removing debris while making sure the juslum beetles, which feed off of any biological detritus and returns nutrients, remain healthy and don’t overpopulate. For an additional 50 Cr per month – plus a shipping cost of 200 Cr per light year – loam soil farms will provide a replacement cubic meter every month.

Medium quality synthetic soils range from 200 Cr to 350 Cr (400-500 Cr for natural soil) per cubic meter while average to poor soils are 50 Cr to 150 Cr (250-350 Cr for natural soil).

These microbots costs 200 Cr apiece and can handle one cubic meter of soil. These are considered level 1 robots, but they have proprietary programs. Some of these microbots have been known to be hacked by vandals to do the opposite of their normal program – to degrade the soils with calcium deposits so they are harmful to S’sessu. In one infamous case, an assassin had managed to alter a microbot’s mission to make the soils toxic enough to kill its owner.

Special traveling beds for Usalas’sk soil are also important for the space-faring S’sessu to help prevent the dirt from being tossed about during Zero-G or high-speed maneuvering conditions. These beds come with a cover to seal them when not in use. As with any such item, prices range from 100 Cr for a Journey Class-style bed with manually installed cover to specialized, luxury beds with automatic covers, temperature and environmental controls or other custom features.

Juslum Beetles. These ten-legged bugs, which grow up to 12 centimeters, are native to Phri’sk and have been domesticated by the S’sessu for centuries to clean up soils, buildings, etc. Although some view them as a food source, most S’sessu think of them like humans treat dogs. Cost: 200 Credits

Tlosha Pitcher Plant. This carnivorous plant is native to the marshes of Phri’sk’s tropical regions though it has since been domesticated to grow in other climates. It has broad leafs with the center having a cup-like structure that secretes a sweet nectar that insects and S’sessu find appetizing. The S’sessu cultivate this nectar for drinks while the tender leaves of young pitcher plants are used to make salads. The mature leaves, however, are poisonous to the worms (S2/T20).

Gizzard stones. S’sessu, like smaller worm species, have a gizzard as part of their digestive system and many use gizzard stones as a way to help with the mechanical breakdown of foods. Although normal stones could be used, the S’sessu have developed entire industries around making and marketing a variety of gizzard stones, from those that are “properly formed” for “perfect digestion” to ornamental stones made out of highly polished glass to those made from semi-precious to precious stones or gems.

Normal gizzard stones range in price from 5 to 10 Credits. Plastic stones range in price from 1 to 10 Credits depending upon quality. Polished glass stones are 10 to 25 Credits. Gizzard stones made of semi-precious to precious stones or gems vary widely in price, depending upon market conditions, or whether natural or artificial gems or stones are used.

Protective Clothing. S’sessu, like the Sathar, secrete a protective slime that is essential for breathing. The wormies breathe through their skin, which must be kept moist otherwise they will suffocate. Similar to Dralasites, the S’sessu’s clothing acts as an additional protective layer when they are in harsh environments such as desert or arctic conditions or sterilized Frontier starships. These garments keep their skin moist without leaving a slime trail that other beings may find offensive.

When using alien devices, S’sessu often wear specialized tactile gloves that will not be harmed by their normal slimy secretions. Basic tactile gloves are generally prices around 10 Credits, though many S’sessu are willing to pay for fancier and finer quality gloves. S’sessu traveler’s garments – often including a cloak with a hood, tail coverings and gloves and “boots” for the lower tentacles – start at 100 Credits.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 9:56pm

S’sessu Origin Legend

Several S’sessu origin legends exist, but one in particular has caught the attention of Frontier xeno-archaeologists. Coming from an ancient Pho’Trassh clan, it talks about how the “Great Worm” – the S’sessu’s image of God, the creator – was displeased with soil bound ways of their First Ones who were too content to play and frolic in an Eden-like world called Kei-Phak. The Great Worm sent a scourge to the First Ones in the form of great walking lizards that took them to the stars to fight many enemies including a race of worm eating insects.

One group of zealots – the S’slu Zatt’ar – sought to overthrow their masters, which displeased the Great Worm even more. The Worm split the S’slu Zatt’ar into squabbling factions, but one group was shown favor. The Great Worm gave the S’slu – renamed as the S’sessu – the world of Phri’sk, which was a world of many delights but also dangers that would challenge and confront them to grow. The S’sessu were warned not to conquer Phri’sk’s environment but rather to adapt to it, hence they have not tried to greatly alter its climate to be more worm friendly.

The Pho’Trassh legend continues that the Zatt’ar were banished to the darkness of the stars, never to find peace or rest. The Zatt’ar are said to eat their children, but modern-day S’sessu dismiss that story as a myth to scare young wormies.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 4, 2016 - 10:01pm

System Data: S’Seuden

Binary Star System

Primary Star Spectral Type: F9 V

Color: Yellow-White Main Sequence

Number of Planets: 3

Asteroid Belts: 1

Habitable Planets: Phri’sk’sree (New Phri’sk)

Major Trade Routes

·         Kashra’sk (Phri’sk) – Distance: 7 light years

·         Gamma Hydrus (Amaldus) – Distance 12 light years

System History

S’seuden was the third star system discovered by the S’sessu after they developed Void travel some 200 years ago and the first one that had a habitable planet – S’seuden III, which they named Phri’sk’sree or “New Phri’sk.” The planet was soon colonized by Phri’sk’s major powers. New clans and nations also arose in some of New Phri’sk’s harsher climates.

S’seuden I is a rock plant that orbits 0.53 AU from the primary star with an orbital period of 0.29 GST years. It is mostly unexplored and considered unremarkable by the S’sessu. Gravity: 1.75.

S’seuden II is another rock planet that orbits 1.03 AU from the primary star with an orbital period of 0.78 GST years. It has a thin, toxic atmosphere and electromagnetic storms that make navigation around it hazardous. It is mostly unexplored and is rumored to have a pirate base or two. Gravity: 1.91

The asteroid belt is at 1.61 AU from the primary star.

New Phri’sk is detailed below.

The S’seuden Prime’s companion star orbits out at 15.2 AU. It is a K5 V Orange Main Sequence Star with a radius of 0.98 sol and a mass of 1.03 sol but a luminosity of 0.54 sol.

After contact with the UPF, the S’sessu eventually would open up a trade route to the Hydrae’s home star system, known in Pan-Gal as Gamma Hydrus. 

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 5, 2016 - 3:55pm

Planetary Brief

Phri’sk’sree (also called New Phri’sk) 

Moons: None

Atmosphere: Dense, slightly toxic

Hydrosphere: 86% water, 45% ice

Gravity: 0.91

Orbit Range:  1.9 AU

Population: Medium – S’sessu, approximately 440 million

Radius: 5,619.8 kilometers (0.88 earth)

Axis tilt: 6.89 degrees

Length of Day: 26 hours, 41 minutes GST

Length of Year: 1.36 GST years

Average Surface Temperature: Cold, Minimum, -50 degrees Celsius; Average, 4 degrees Celsius; Maximum, 66 degrees Celsius

Native Life: No sentient native life; microbes, algae, animals

Trade: Mining.

Planet Description:

The third planet in the S’seuden system, New Phri’sk was settled by the S’sessu about 140 years ago mainly by the S’sostrans, the Ssar’pheskians and the Pho’Trassh who’ve founded mining and penal colonies. A number of enterprising S’sessu also established their own settlements and claimed territory, leading to a number of colonial wars. Because the atmosphere is toxic to the worms, they wear special filtering suits when working or traveling outside of their pressurized dome communities.

The planet has one large continent and a smaller continent plus several large islands and archipelagoes. Nearly 86 percent of the planet is covered by water -- including 45 percent by ice during the winter, which lasts for more than half of its year.

Springtime occurs when New Phri’sk’s orbit draws closer to S’seuden’s companion star (Sholoss’sk).  The ice retreats by up to 50 percent during the summer when New Phri’sk orbit brings it in closer alignment with Scholoss’sk and autumn starts as it draws away from the companion star.

The S’sostrans have made abortive plans to start a terraforming operation on New Phri’sk, but at the current rate, the planet may not be “worm friendly” for another two to three centuries. It is rumored they are looking for a partner company from the Frontier. If this project is successful, such a radical change in the planet’s atmosphere would likely kill off its native life, but many of them are poisonous to Satharoids.

Except for some small research stations and a few satellites, there are no docking stations in orbit. The major S’sessu nations maintain squadrons of ground-based fighters while the S’sostrans maintain patrols of 2-4 scout/bombers in the system to discourage piracy.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
March 5, 2016 - 7:59am
Haven't read everything here yet but obviously there is a lot of detail and it goes without saying that I think you should submit to the magazine. 

I like the gizzard stones and had a thought. Recently watched a "Live to Tell" episode where a marine sniper explained the tradition of the hog's tooth. That in training they are referred to as PIGs: Professionally Trained Gunman and after training they are called HOGs: Hunter of Gunmen and that each sniper must earn their "hog's tooth" which is the bullet in the chamber of the rifle of a sniper they kill who was actively trying to kill them. Once earned this bullet has its base drilled out and is worn on a cord around the neck. 

I was thinking something similar with the gizzard stones and Frontier military forces might have sprung up. 

More than likely its not applicable to a sathar burned down with a laser set on maximum SEU. Perhap its for killing a sathar in melee combat or alternately since a sniper represents a significant threat over the common soldier it could be a tail dart for killing a quick death in battle. 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
March 5, 2016 - 3:49pm
Dear Jedion357:

Sure, I can submit an article for the magazine.

The idea for the gizzard stones, comes from the forum topic "Sathar Biology and its Ramifications" started by Tchklinxa on May 3, 2015 - 2:48pm. That same topic by Tchklinxa is where I got the idea that high levels of calcium might be bad for Satharoids. (Updated: And the ideas for S'sessu clothing, the need for slime to breathe through their skin, etc.)

So, any article should have Tchklinxa as a co-writer.

The "hog's tooth" idea certainly seems interesting. There would be plenty of UPF troops who would have had a chance to get those during the Second Sathar War.

Another idea is Star Law might have to break up an illicit S'sessu smuggling operation that sends high-quality gizzard stones out of Kraatar glass to suspected Sathar agents.

Anyway, I presented the proposed Phri'sk planetary update here for any feedback.
Joe Cabadas

iggy's picture
March 5, 2016 - 1:31pm
Do you have these systems maarked on a map anywhere to share?

JCab747's picture
March 5, 2016 - 3:17pm
Dear Iggy:

Not quite yet. I have a primative map in progress and I will finish it.

The S'sessu are "south" of the standard Star Frontiers and Zebulon's map toward the region called the "Vast Expanse."

According to the original article by "Zeb" Cook, the "Ssessu only hold claim to a small region of space, consisting of two stellar systems (each with one smal inhabited planet) lying ten light years from the Gruna Garu system, on a line running from Dixon's Star to Gruna Garu and on to the S'sessu worlds."

That would put Phri'sk pretty near the Rhianna system, home of Alcazzar.

I threw in the Peeloven's (Star Frontiersman #24) and the Skree (Star Frontiersman #__) as early trading partners for the S'sessu to give a way for these other optional races to have a way to connect into the UPF. The Hydrae are a "Captain Rags" creation, which I liked.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
March 5, 2016 - 8:14pm
One of the questions that I have, which I would welcome a critique, include:

"The S’sessu developed Void travel roughly 200 years ago..." Is this too long a time for them to have Void travel and to have only gotten to one other system that they colonized? Maybe it should be a shorter time frame.
Joe Cabadas

iggy's picture
March 6, 2016 - 4:44pm
Your intuition may be right.  You might want to shorten the time that they have had void travel.  Check out the life span of the S'sessu and think about how many chuld bearing generations you want.  Also think about the colony they have established and how big you want it.  TerlObar and I have done population models before and can work out how many beings will come from a given number of colonists based on the birth rate the beings have and how long their child bearing years are.  I think S'sessu reproduction was discussed a bit in the past here.  If not, we could work it out from their biology.

JCab747's picture
March 9, 2016 - 8:37pm
iggy wrote:
Do you have these systems marked on a map anywhere to share?

I've finished my map.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
March 16, 2016 - 10:37am
I don't think 200 yrs is too long. Clearly they're linked to the sathar so maybe they're being careful, not wishing the sathar to locate them? 

Also the sathar went 900 years since first visiting Volturnus before showing their slime there again so the do seem to operate on long spans of time.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!