What would entice you to play a retro clone of Star Frontiers?

jedion357's picture
September 27, 2011 - 6:12pm
The caveat is that any retro clone cant violate IP which means dralasites, vrusk, and yazirians as well as UPF, Clarion and Royal Marines are gone. No PGC/Streel rivalry, No port Loren, no Dramune run.

It also means no Rim or Rim Races; and far fewer sentient races, at least initially.

It would have to be a new setting, new races except humans of course, and new storylines and new history.

New map, new planets (though when considering ways to tweak The SF setting and skirt the letter of the IP law I had settled on using yet another greek name for a planet and calling Zebulon, Vulcan, just for fun though the tweaked eorna would not be Vulcans.

So some questions

1. How would you feel about new races? What would you need to see in new races to entice you?

2. UPF? Does the setting have to have a "federal" government? Could the style of government be changed? Could it be a confederation? Would a weak central confederation work for this setting? similar to the Confederate state of America. Many units are transfered from constituant states, some were raised by the Confed authority but some were raised by planets and transfered.

3. Militias? Would more and large number of hulls be a problem? Could the militia's designation be dropped and some just have real navy names: System Defense Fleet, Royal Hibernian Navy, etc.

4. what would your reaction to more factionalism among the core races be? What I mean by that is that some single race planets are not so committed to the United Nations err I mean United Galaxy idea and they plan scheme and plot just as much as a SF mega corp.

5. Mega Corps who behave badly? Could they be tweeked away from the canon statements of each one is a monopoly in one area? Something I think that is unrealistic.

6. How much setting detail do you need for you to be enticed? Is there such a thing as too much detail.

7. could you roll with a solid setting with set areas reserved intentionally for GM's to craft and paint?

8. I miss anything?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
September 27, 2011 - 7:13pm
$1,000,000.  If someone gave me a million dollars, I'd play any retro clone game they came up with Foot in mouth.

I'm assuming that by "retro clone" we're talking something that is the same ruleset but a different setting.  I guess the thing that would get me to play that is a good, well thought out, and interesting setting and some one else running the game.  I'f I'm going to have to run the game, the bar is pretty high to get me to switch since I can already play SF, the material is freely availabe, and I'm familiar with the setting.  Why switch to something new, especially if the ruleset is the same?

If we're talking about a different ruleset as well, then in addtion to an excellent setting it has to have a ruleset I like.  Truthfully, I'm still with Star Frontiers becuase I like the setting.  I like the simplicity of the rules as well, but If it were up to me, there are many, many things I'd change about the rule mechanics to make it more to my liking, some of them fairly radical.

To Jedi's specific questions:

1) New races are fine as long as a) they are well thought out and described and b) there aren't too many of them.  What needs to be there?  Uniqueness and a well throught out history and back story.

2) It doesn't need a "Federal Government".  As long as it is logical and works in the setting it could be anything, even just a bunch of independent systems (a la Greek city states).

3) Yes to all.  In fact, if star ships are common, I'd expect there to be many more militia ships around.

4) No problem here either.

5) Don't they already?  And not a problem to tweak them away from the monopoly mold.

6)  I'd like to see at least as much as in the AD+KH rules.  So that comes down to something like 15-25 pages including race descriptions.  Can you have too much? Yes but I doubt anyone working on a project like this part time is going to generate too much detail.

7) yes

8) probably but I can't think of what it is Smile.

Anyway, those are the thoughts off the top of my head.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
My blog - Expanding Frontier
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

jedion357's picture
September 27, 2011 - 7:38pm
I should mention that when I say "retro clone" I dont mean what other people mean or rather I dont mean exactly what litteral people mean.

Retro Clone in this case would be essentially AD-KHs but with a better developed character creation system- more skill but not as many as SF2000 or ZEbs, vehicle combat mechanic tweeked so that an automatic rifle can damage a ground car, Spacer skills revisited content, that sort of thing.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
September 28, 2011 - 4:05am
Since Alan Dean Foster also had a giant bug alien like the vrusk, I'm toying with these guys for replacement killers for the sathar:

homicidal hive swarm, rip off the 3 or make it 4 caste system we developed for the sathar. with the lowest cast used as a swarm with no equipment and are easily blown away. and thing get tougher from their with higher caste.

If you wanted to play them as the sathar then you can but if you wanted a STar Craft type game then you can- bring out the seige tanks! Hoo-yeah!

Lets you have the equivelent of Plague worlds except these were worlds were overrun by the Mantes and the good guys nuked them till they glowed to wipe out the bugs.

As for good guy aliens I have a race I created that needs its history and background tweeked but will appear soon in the SFman (18? i think). basically a matriarchal hexapedal saurian which evolved some metabolic control as a racial ability to handle the most hostile parts of the home world's environment.

Was thinking to write in an android race- created by a mega corp for cheap labor in very hostile environments but since they were sentient one of the earliest proto types managed to bring a lawsuit and get their status changed. Corporation saw it coming and dismantled a whole production run not willing to give up its property. So while all those still functioning at the time of the court decision got their freedom there is only about 20 of them out there. They have attempted to replicate themselves but their efforts have met with mixed results. Players can be an Android PC from these 2nd generation androids. At any rate this is the basic thought and probably needs to be thought threw more. Oh yeah there is the mystery of where are the dismantled androids that can be a background storyline and even be the source of a campaign.

So that gives a menace, The Mantes
The beginnings of a core 5- Humans, 6 limbed saurian, androids and 2 as yet unknowns.
Note I say core 5 so that anyone who doesn't like the android storyline can just drop it and still have a core 4. Though with only 20-30 androids living in the whole sector you could just ignore the android story line without dropping it- they exist but they dont trun up in your game.

with the androids being yet another sentient race it expands the possibilities but they didn't evolve they were created. I like including them that way.

BTW how close could one get to mentalist powers before you decided the retro clone was not your cup of tea?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
September 28, 2011 - 3:54pm
Same rules/mechanics but different names and setting? I'm down for that.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

AZ_GAMER's picture
September 28, 2011 - 5:40pm
Bugs are a bit over done, why not go with a humanoid menace

Shell's picture
September 28, 2011 - 7:58pm
 I would support a Retro-Clone Star Frontiers game! Keep the AD/KH rules, to keep it simple and fun... with a few tweaks!

 Instead of trying to make a AD/KH setting, keep the core rules generic; that way if you want to play in a specific setting, it can be done by offering modules (like 2001 and 2010), or maybe detailed suppliments, so you can play in a PGC/UPF setting; or a "Trek" setting; or a far-flung frontier setting... or whatever.

 Each suppliment could provide additional/optional rules, new races, and game information for use in that setting. This could allow for all of the great SFman contributions to be used, while keeping the core rules intact.

 As far as the old SF races, knock-off versions could be provided in the core rules as sample races, to give new players something to play, and to tie in with a PGC/UPF suppliment.

 Just my opinion.


Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
September 28, 2011 - 9:58pm
My big suggestion --- create a less clunky starship design ruleset. 

Toss the MHS bit and go with actual volume, meaning have drives take up a mandatory x% amount of space, LS is another y%, and then cargo/cargo space can be made available by the cubic meter instead of the generic unknown "unit" --- meaning instead of 1 unit of ground cars you can have one ground car per 12.5 cubic meters worth of hold space or something to that effect --- assign/determine volume measures for everything.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
September 29, 2011 - 3:29am
My vision would be a retro AD rule book with spacer skill included so that the KHs supliment would merge seemlessly with the first book. The existing vehicle combat system can be made to work with changed values and vehicles rated as civilian, para military and military. depending on the size (want to stay under a certain size so that the book can be bound by saddle stitch) of the rule book the new setting may or may not be included in that book but might be a second book and an introductory adventure.
offered as a "boxed" download or a bundled set of books on lulu.

KWs would follow on, update the weapons and defenses, volume based ship construction, keep the format of a tactical board game and role play/campaign game that already exists. faction based ship designs with different strengths and weaknesses inherent in each race's design philosophy.

As far as I'm concerned, if you dont loosen up the character creation/skills system (just not to the extent of Zebs or SF2000), fix vehicle combat, do away with MHS, and rework the weapons and defenses mix in KH then the project is not worth doing.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
October 8, 2011 - 12:51pm
been messing around with Dyson's tables on his blog for generating aliens: http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/random-thursday-a-xenomorph-may-be-involved/

and came up with a four limbed venomous mammalian covered with light chitin, four limbs two are manipulating limbs. I call him the poisonous armidillo race for now.

next time through came up with the odd funk listing of deadly poisonous

the more I comb through my animal book though the more I like the mantids (preying mantiss) close to the vursk but with 4 legs 2 manipulating arms. perhpas make them smaller than a vrusk- 1 meter and a different culture obviously.

also like th face of the manatee and/or the elephant seal for the dralasite replacement

dont have a nemisis species yet though androids have hit my radar in a big way to be an NPC race in the role of the mechanons- following their own agendas. After winning their freedom in a famous court case the realized that humans, which they were made in the image of, are not their friends when the corporation that built them got a way with dismantling a whole production run of androids while they were still considered property and it was obvious that the court case would side with the androids. Some of these androids have experimented with replicating themselves but with mixed results (creating an opening for PC androids) by an large android society is secretive and most of them pursue their own aims.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

AZ_GAMER's picture
October 8, 2011 - 3:56pm
Why androirds make sense as a good antagonist.

1. Easy Plot device: Humankind's creation run amok i.e. blade runner, terminator, & BSG

2. They are cool

3. "They don't think like us", an androirds motivations for antagonism against the PC's can vary alot and don't have to be a complicated reason. It can be as simple as a virus that has corupted their programing, a desire to surrive and view others as a threat that stand in their way, conquest - the other races don't take care of themselves and their planets and therefore need to be governed by those (androids) not suspectible to their weaknesses, eradication of inferior or imperfect organic spieces - borg, daleks, skynet, etc.

4. They can be anamorphic and adapt to use our technology so they can use their tech and human tech as well

5. They can be very scarry antagonists, stronger, ruthless, not subjective to weaknesses of flesh such as compassion, empathy, pain, hunger, fatigue or sleep.

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 8, 2011 - 7:50pm
I agree with AZ, however, on the other side of the coin it may make it difficult to allow PC robots/androids/automatons. 

Social stigma would be hard to overcome imo. 

Look at your animal book and pick a race that makes you want to vomit, squish, detest or kill-on-site. 

Inigo Montoya's picture
Inigo Montoya
October 8, 2011 - 10:37pm
w00t wrote:
I agree with AZ, however, on the other side of the coin it may make it difficult to allow PC robots/androids/automatons. 

Social stigma would be hard to overcome imo.

Speaking from personal experience?

AZ_GAMER's picture
October 9, 2011 - 4:52pm
Machines are easy though. We would find it easier to go to war against a machine then against something living, even if we find that living thing revulting. For example we eradicate roaches when they come into our homes and work places but wouldnt necessarily seek them out in the forest and drop a bug bomb in their rotting log. A machine on the other hand we build scrap yards and recycling centers, and incinerators and go out of our way to hall the junk to the dump. 

AZ_GAMER's picture
October 9, 2011 - 5:11pm

If we want to go biological maybe we should make it slug like, fish like, or crustacean like. The bug thing just seems so overdone, robots are close but it's hard to get tired of robots and androids in science fiction. Battle Los Angelous uses a amphibious or aquatic spiecies called the blaa that come to our world to colonize it and obtain our resources. The alien from the alien movies is intriguing because it incorporates several terrifying aspects from bugs and other creepy crawlies as well as their host organism. The problem with starfish aliens is that the more exotic we get the less and less they need to rely on technology that we understand. For example a slug alien would have much need for a starship if they just hitched rides with whoever is unfortunate enough to visit their planet. An insectoid alien may have organic spines that it shoots from its own body instead of needing a gun. The more alien a creature, the less it needs to conform to our standards and motivations. If it doesn't have hands why would it need tools? An alien that dopplegangs like the one in "the thing" would make a terrifying adversary...it could be anything, mimic anything, until you got up close and then its too late. Why do I need a complex society that builds massive spaceships that traverse the universe when I can get on yours and have you take me where I need to go. This creates a potential problem for the space combat game because the the starfish aliens don't need their own ships, they simply take over yours and hitch a ride and a snack on the way to your homeworld. In my comic book series the heroes will eventually encounter a very dangerous sentient race that is highly intelligent but doesnt need to build their own space fleet they borrow yours. Wink

jedion357's picture
October 9, 2011 - 7:00pm
Some good points AZ- I just think that a SF retro clone must have a core four and an implacable alien nemisis. The nemisis needs to have the implacability of the Sathar or Borg, No negotiation, no co-existence, they just want to exterminate civilized life and are a shoot on site sort of opponent.

tacking on the androids as an analog to the mechnons just seemed natural and would hurt the game.

As for slugs i really like the myxine that was debuted on this site, lots of potential there but more as comic relief within the party. But then mentalism rankles the sensibilities of some people and is contra indicated when you're trying to win over customers.

EDIT: I had very much wanted to have uplifted dolphins like in David Brinn's Uplift trilogy, who use a robotic like spider walker to enter the human portions of a ship but their section of a ship is filled with water. w00t rained oil on that idea before it ever became a parade though so I dropped it. But what if it was an alien analog to dolphins, an aquatic amphibian alien that uses an robotic spider walker when boarding air filled ships. Its implacable and being a water breather its pretty alien but the spider walker ties into the insect revulsion. Plus spider walker acting as a exoskeleton beefs them up and makes them a tough opponent.

There of course is the question of how does an aquatic species build an industrial society without fire but that can be left a mystery.

The "salamanders" will have a built in hiding place on any world with liquid water oceans. Anyone else think that a salamander like head looks suitably alien?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 9, 2011 - 7:52pm
More raining of the oil. (Actually, its just my opinion);
A race that does not have a way to manipulate fine items isn't a good idea. 
A race that primarily lived in water and could breath air and walk on land is a good idea. Instead of fire they discovered a crystalline heat source. 

...just some ideas. 

In Titan A. E. the antagonist race was a type of energy I believe. Have you considered that?

AZ_GAMER's picture
October 9, 2011 - 9:11pm

Well that is the problem with truely alien races, the more exotic they are the farther you will have to depart from Human technology and motivations. An aquatic dolphin like race probably wouldn't be overly concerned with space travel unless another race took them to the stars. Spider walker - sorry im' not diggin it, its creepy and cool but is completely the oposite direction of an aquatic race. An aquatic race would probably rely on some kind of secreted or grown material to make their "industrial" tools and machines as fire would not work unless they were semi-aquatic or amphibious and got out of the sea from time to time. Star Trek had an aquatic race in the enterprise series but it was evident that another race from the same homeworld was responsible for their travel to the stars.

SMKSensei's picture
October 16, 2011 - 6:24am
Well, I guess step one for a true retro-clone would be to isolate the setting-less mechanics of the game. Then the setting, any setting, could be built on top of it. (Like Labyrinth Lord/Stars Without Number/Mutant Future, etc. using a only slightly modified Moldvey "Basic" D&D system)

Actually this sounds a lot like d00?  ...isn't the game mechanic for FrontierSpace a simulacrum with SF? w00t?

To me, the setting of Star Frontiers made the game what it is/was. I mean, we've played it using the Savage Worlds mechanics and enjoyed it just as much. The d100 mechanics of SF isn't really all that complex, so to clone that would be relatively easy and certainly fall within the OGL.

My question then would be, is a "retro clone" of Star Frontiers in any way, shape, or form, still Star Frontiers once you've removed it of the I.P. (Intellectual Property) issues? Or have you simply created a new game with a d100 mechanic? I'm not trying to suggest that this is a bad idea, I'm just wondering what a "retro clone" would look like.

A retro-clone of the "world's most popular fantasy game" is different because that milieu is somewhat generic and public domain. (dragons, trolls, wizards, elves) Even an apocalyptic clone is easy because again, you only need two ingredients to clone: the mechanic and the generic background story. (there was an apocalyptic event and now there's gamma radiation freaking everything out)

Anyhow, that's what comes to mind when the idea of a retro-clone of Star Frontiers is presented. First a "cool!" then a "wait.... what the heck would that even look like?" I wish, I wish, I wish, that the current StarFrontiers IP would just be all made open under the OGL. Then we could all just have at it with the ability to make fully "compatible" material to build upon it and SELL it or legally distribute it under different means.  ..if only. :-P

jedion357's picture
October 16, 2011 - 7:39am
SMKSensi has hit the nail on the head. Larry and I wrestled with this issue after getting word back from an IP lawyer. The only way to do this is to write rules that will have the fast and light feel of AD and introduce a new setting with new races. The only thing that will sell that setting is a high quality line of modules.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Ron_65's picture
October 16, 2011 - 8:52pm
Why would someone produce a retro-clone of Star Frontiers? The rules are available for free. The reason retro-clones are so popular for all of the different versions of D&D is that those games are no longer available. It works because none of them were setting specific. What I like most about Star Frontiers is the setting. I'm not particularly impressed by the game system itself though. There are already several "old school" style rpgs available as free pdf downloads with much more simple game mechanics (Stars Without Number to name one). I hate to be the fly in the ointment here but IMO the effort would be a waste of time.

AZ_GAMER's picture
October 17, 2011 - 12:25am
Welcome to the site Ron, (havent see you here before)

Curious, define waste of time (LOL)

It may not be necessary to retro-clone SF but if someone wanted to do it, it wouldnt be anymore a waste of time as any other retro-clone. I think the effort stems from the same problem that we face here in the community with the TSR/WOTC IP issue. Everyone is somewhat limited in what we can do with the old system and no one can produce any new items for sale bc of the IP. A new retro-clone eases the problem of the IP but does create an entirely new problem in that it is no longer the original game. So I agree with you that it may not be necessary but it wouldnt be a waste of time and might even provide some new material that wouldn't have seen the light of day otherwise bc of the IP limitations.

jedion357's picture
October 17, 2011 - 4:42am
Well stated AZ. And good question Ron, I was excited about the possibility of a clone with drollons, slathons, Zarians , and Mantids till the IP lawyer shot it down. But since I've made peace with the idea that a new setting will be required. The bigger question is will it be a profitable endeavor? I don't think its a waste of time as I had always intended a AD 2.0 of my own with all the little things I wanted to see fixed in the rules and an inclusion of some of the best house rules I've seen. I am mindful of the fact that if this is to be successful that it will be so on the strength of the modules. Tentative plans is separate books for the core rule book, setting book, and introductory adventure. That way people can pick and choose what they want from those 3 offerings. Also plan to offer a deal price if you just purchase all three.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Malcadon's picture
November 13, 2011 - 1:40am
I like the idea of a retro-clone-like game based on SF. I do agree that:
  • The core rulebook should be setting neutral, with "plug-in" settings.
    • The rules should cover char-gen, movement, travel/survival, and combat, but with races, equipment, and the technical "Handwavium" found in setting books.
  • The core-rules need a good overhaul, with ship combat/construction rules built from scratch.
    • The rules could play like Basic AD, with Advanced AD added in a more streamlined fashion.
    • No "basic" and "advanced" rules: One system, made simple!
    • Greater freedom and flexibility should be granted for ship design.
    • Combat and movement should be scaled between Man, Vehicle/Fighter, and Spaceship.
  • The "introductory" space-opera setting could still capture the spirit of the classic Alpha Dawn setting, but with all the serial numbers filed off.
  • Additional settings may include:
    • A retro-styled sci-fi, like the old Buck Rodgers serials
    • '80s-styled cyberpunk.
    • A post-apocalyptic fiction akin to Fallout.
    • Steam-punk.
    • An anime-styled "real robot" war-fiction.
  • These added settings could compliment the overall core rules, as they each have something to offer, that can be used in other genres.
    With that "introductory" space-opera setting, you can still make it like Alpha Dawn, if you make things fairly generic - same federal system with big fleets, same militia fleets, same omnipresent mega-corps, same alien conflict, but all a little different. If anything, braking the game of it's disjointed canons frees-up the game to a larger and more open-ended setting! It could be a universe with some core worlds for more "urban" adventures, a periphery of frontier worlds for more "western" adventures, and a sea of uncharted worlds for more "exportation" adventures - a little something for everyone.

    jedion357's picture
    January 26, 2012 - 8:42am
    One of the hardest things to come up with is a believable alien (to me it always seemed that Alpha Dawn was a bit of a lightning strike that is hard to duplicate). So I'm working on a bad guy race and looking for criticism. Right off the bat I know there is a bit of a problem with an aquatic race bcoming a tool using star faring race. Basic idea is inspired by David Brinn's treatment of dolphins. In my case the idea is a eel like being that resides in a glass globe housed in a spider walker. Their language is unknown but they can use the PCs languages through a voice synthesizer. They don't generally seek to communicate but mimic the sathar in actions - attack on site etc. The intent is to make them enigmatic like the sathar. Sure they could never evolve industry that would have built the spider walkers but that is part of the mystery, some other race has at some point in the past modified these creatures and plugged them into these encounter suits ie the spider walker. They have inherited the industry of their "parent" race and use its automation to perpetuate their warmachine. They seem to spend their time in the globes and these globes can be unplugged from the walker and plugged into other equipment or even ships. Part of their actions are to use cybernetic control on other creatures- zombie like slavebots. The walkers and others equipment that the globes plug into have power sources, defense shields and weapons making facing one of these a tough challenge.
    I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

    jedion357's picture
    January 26, 2012 - 11:29am
    POST2: naming a new race is always tough to come up with a good one especially since I don't go in for something like deathwalker or such. I've been wondering what PC races would name a race that did not, initially talk to them. For the above described race I've been working on an acronym Cybernetic Augmented Life-form Aquatic Species or CALAS. Also trying to make CALIBAN work: Cybernetic Aquatic LIfe-form with the BAN standing for Bio-engineered Augment or Bad Asses haven't figured out what to do with the N though.
    I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

    Ascent's picture
    January 26, 2012 - 12:15pm
    Node. Network.
    View my profile for a list of articles I have written, am writing, will write.
    "It's yo' mama!" —Wicket W. Warrick, Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi
    "That guy's wise." —Logray, Star Wars Ep.VI: Return of the Jedi
    Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? - Felicia Day (The Guild)

    jedion357's picture
    January 26, 2012 - 12:35pm
    Ascent wrote:
    Node. Network.
    Nanites as well but perhaps its just plain CALIBAN with the LI coming from life-form and the AN coming from augment. Though perhaps I'll need to define how they're augmented.
    I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

    AZ_GAMER's picture
    January 26, 2012 - 9:26pm

     If you are considering an acronym name I would keep it at 4 or 5 characters anything more than that sounds too contrived.

    I don't know that a tool using aquatic races is that impossible to do, just difficult. Their technology could be imported from another race. The problem with really alien aliens is that it is difficult for us to move beyond our own experience as human beings to imagine what their life and technology would be based on. The movie Battle Los Angeles is about an inviading aquatic race, the Blaa. As air breathing land dwelling creatures it is difficult to visualize what a industrial technology would be for an aquatic race but truthfully if we consider it we can actually see the possibility as difficult as it is. Our own seas are full of fire, geothermal and vocanic eruptions, maybe these creatures learned to harness fire like this which would allow for the development of metal based technology and tools. In order for an alien race to work in a video game they have to have theability to manipulate technology through limbs, hands, tentacles, flippers or whatever. If they cant use tech then on their own then you are in for a tough hall and some potentially unhappy players trying to visualize what they are experiencing. The Sathar have hand like appendages to manipute things around them. If the Sathar were straight worms with no appendages then the players would have a serious problem viewing them as anything more than a monster in a dungeon crawl. they have to be enough like us that we identify with them yet different enough that we see them as alien. Take the alien from the alien franchise for example. If in its grown state it was still like the chestburster the movie goer would have trouble with seeing it as anything more than an animal. But give it arms and legs and human like ambulation and all the sudden you have a terror that can manipulate the environment like we can and for much more sinister reasons.
    I don't mean to rain on the spider walker idea but I really don't get excited by that. The ev suit seems more of a hinderence then an aide. You disable the suit and all you have is pretty fishbowl. While this is good for the clever player this horrible for the GM trying to bring on his newest blood chilling terror to life. When I describe the Sathar I dont just say its this slimey pink bellied worm with flippers carrying a laser rifle. I describe it like the scene from alien where the alien is slithering around the pipes inside the Nostromo shuttle. Subtle, slithering, glistening from a viscus wet slime, undulating as it hydrostatically pumps fluid into its segments as it slowly winds and turns into view. A sickly pink partially translucent under side with strange brown hued backside. Anyway, the point is that an alien that can control our environment as well as we can is far more identifyable and terrifying than one that can't

    jedion357's picture
    January 27, 2012 - 5:54am
    Thanks for the detailed answer AZ_Gamer, I had to stop and think it through.

    Check: use a shorter acronym or rather still use CALIban as they needed a name and built it from Cybernetic Aquatic LIfe-form. I'm liking the name caliban but then I like Shakespear too. BTW I was thinking that this race's work horse star ship (destroyer sized) would be called the Tempest Class, followed later by a Storm class vessel.

    I'm not getting the difference between a race manipulating the environment with a mechanical hand vs a biological hand- its still manipulating the environment. As to PCs disabling the spider walker its little different then disabling the body of a sathar- its what they do in game. Except in most modules a sathar is sent into battle with little more than a laser rifle and two clips. In this case the Caliban will have a lot of built in tech in his walker and where a GM would have sent 6 or more sathar at the PCs only 1-2 Caliban would be needed.

    w00t brought up EMP to disable the walkers, which is a good point but also we can just stipulate that they are hardened against EMP.

    I'm also planning a small cybernetically controll creature (proto type is a scorpian without the scorpian tail) that drops off the spider walker and scurries around doing the Caliban's bidding. These "scorpians" are expendable and carry a cybernetic device on their back with an integrated weapon system except the weapon system is very limited in ammo (1-2 shots) or is effectively a grenade that the scorpian delivers by scurrying to the target and the Caliban detonates it remotely.

    All in all I think the caliban can be very dangerous and yet not so dangerous as to be insurmountable.
    I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

    Shadow Shack's picture
    Shadow Shack
    January 27, 2012 - 3:15pm
    Call them Klausians.

    After Klaus from American Dad Wink

    I've dabbled with sea dwellers myself once, but I resigned myself to keeping them in the sea rather than land transplants. (I made a sea dwelling version of the Ul-Mor).
    I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

    My SF website