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Old 09-21-2019, 07:38 PM   #1
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Alien Threats [Space]

One of the primary issues with challenging PCs in science fiction games is that you often have to break their equipment, steal their equipment, and/or have them facing equally technological adversaries. One solution to the above issues is to introduce alien threats that have methods for overcoming technology, either mundane or mystical, especially when it comes to nonsapient threats. I will a couple that I have develop for my settings:

Absolute Invisibility: Invisibility (EM; Affect Machines, +50%) [60]

Deadly Pincers: Piercing Attack 4d (Armor Divisor, /10, +200%; Melee, C-1, Dual Weapon, Destructive Parry, +0%) [60]


What type of ways do you make nonsapient threats relevant it a Space campaign?
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

IT:DR so they have massive hp or Diffuse to mitigate many guns.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:21 PM   #3
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

It helps if you eschew realism. For example the Void Angels from Rules change in the reaches are living entities whose habitat is space. Their mental emanations scramble electronics, while their tentacles can turn partially desolid, reach through armour and hulls and pull the occupants out in space unprotected. But then that's a Space/Horror game.

Similarly the Dream Eaters are telepathic tuber-like life-forms that remove the ability of humans to dream within their radius of effect. The result that after a few weeks of exposure, the humans develop anteretrograde amnesia, forgetting the day's memories while they sleep. And if humans approach the trees the Eaters parasitize, they can use mental illusions to turn them on each other or just flood their minds with frightening hallucinations.

For a more superficially realistic approach, try a low gravity dense atmosphere world with giant flying creatures that just swoop down, pick up humans, and then drop them from the air. Give them blue and white markings to make them hard to spot until they're swooping distance.

On Summanus, there are no trees but there are large sessile animals that are kind of like trees with membranes stretching between their lims made out of symbiotic photosynthetic organisms. Most of them are harmless. But there's a related species that looks almost the same except it isn't sessile. If an animal sleeps close enough it will slowly move over and try to skewer it. Even if you're sleeping in armour, if the armour's flexible you'll still be pinned to the ground and will suffocate from the weight on your chest.

Similarly on Summanus the Fisher Kings are sessile (when mature) aquatic animals that bury themselves in the ocean floor. They will gather food by sensing vibration and stretching out their tentacles to grab things and pull them into their maw. And if they're on their shore that includes reaching on the land and grabbing animals walking there. They pull them into the ocean where unless you have your own air supply you'll drown.

Small and venomous has a lot of potential when dealing with anyone who doesn't have a sealed environment suit. Likewise nerve gas as a defense mechanism on anyone who doesn't have breathing apparatus. Fungal spores that infect humans, turning them into zombies that still sort of remember how to use weapons.

Then there's the slow stuff. While it's not likely that any life form would have super corrosive fluids ala Aliens, I could buy corrosives that do slow cumulative damage to gear.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

There's always the "small swarmers" option, such as the "dopey joes" from Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky.

If you want more dramatic danger, go with the fliers from Pitch Black.

A marginal movie with some good ideas was Enemy Mine, with Dennis Quaid and Lou Gosset, Jr. In that one, the creatures of the planet had evolved defenses against periodic meteor showers that made them quite dangerous, if only because they hid underground.

2300 AD has some good problematic creatures, as well.
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

High TL characters arenít necessarily fully-equipped soldiers, so even wolves and the like can be legitimate threats. If you need animals that can threaten power armor-clad, heavy weapon-wielding soldiers, extremely heavy enemies (or those that can readily dogpile to effectively become heavy) may be able to pin them down, and if theyíre persistent enough may be able to remove enough armor to get to the chewy center, or at least cause enough damage to the armor to seriously inconvenience the character (damaging air intakes can mean needing to remove some armor to be able to continue to breathe, making you more vulnerable later, or can be more immediately dangerous if the atmosphere needs filtration to be breathable). Pests that damage sensitive equipment can also be a serious long-term threat. To be a direct combat threat, you probably need some exotic abilities, like armor-piercing claws/teeth or similar.

To survive against the PCís long enough to be a threat, large numbers can work if the PCís have limited area-attack ability (and note simply eating up the grenades/ammo they need later can be a threat). Camouflage and hidden tunnels can also help to get close, but become less useful as TL goes up and gear-assisted detection becomes easier. Surviving in direct sustained combat again needs some exotic abilities, like active camouflage or blaster-resistant carapace.
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

One reason I liked the new monsters from second Tremors was... fnorded for spoilers.

They seemed super smart destroying the radio and vehicle engines... but were in actually really dumb. They attacked the machines, because their thermographic vision indicated the object gave off heat.
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Old 09-22-2019, 02:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
High TL characters arenít necessarily fully-equipped soldiers, so even wolves and the like can be legitimate threats.

(SNIP)

Camouflage and hidden tunnels can also help to get close, but become less useful as TL goes up and gear-assisted detection becomes easier. Surviving in direct sustained combat again needs some exotic abilities, like active camouflage or blaster-resistant carapace.
Super-exotic beasties smack entirely too much of the parts of Star Wars I dislike the most.

Heavy military gear should never be available to PCs unless they're actually in the Colonial Space Marines (or whatever). If scruffy space-merchants have access to the latest Mobile Infantry power armor, the GM is Doing It Wrong.

Additionally, professional military organizations practice professional logistics for a reason. High-tech gear requires high-tech support -- batteries and maintenance and replacements for expendables such as bullets, power cells and grenades.

If the guys out on the spearhead are too sharp, have something terrible happen to the soft and chewy REMFs at the supply base. If the battery rechargers and ammo cases are buried under piles of predators eating hundreds of maintenance personnel, the dudes in the power armor are in for a bad time.
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Old 09-22-2019, 02:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

When I ran Inhuman Space, nearly all the cosmic horrors were Transhuman Technology Gone Wrong. (The backstory of the PCs was that most of them had been together years earlier as a cleanup team for Pacific War bioweapons.) But I did run them into an alien threat, which was a lot like the "protomolecule" in The Expanse: a living metal nanotech entity that had entered the solar system via interstellar orbit and then falling into circumjovian orbit, where it was found by a research ship. It couldn't digest organics but it started eating the PCs' ship. . . .
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Old 09-22-2019, 04:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

Quote:
Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
Super-exotic beasties smack entirely too much of the parts of Star Wars I dislike the most.
Agreed. Related, if you make beasts that are a significant threat to soldiers in power armor, itís difficult to set an encounter against them when the characters are out of their armor. This is why, if I were to ever seriously design a Star Craft campaign, Iíd alter the lore so that Marines in power armor are the exception rather than the rule (as this lets me scale the Zerg and Protoss, and even psionic humans, down to less superhuman levels).

Certainly agree with the rest of what you said as well - an indirect threat can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than a direct one, and without making humans into universal-junk-food-in-hard-to-open-containers.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: Alien Threats [Space]

A realistic beast is not going to be a threat to an armed warrior in face to face combat past about TL 5, once reasonably fast repeating rifles exist there really isn't anything that can stand up to them. The solutions are "don't use a realistic beasts" or "don't engage in face to face combat against armed warriors"; ambush hunters and swarms are reasonably effective unless people are wearing full coverage armor.
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