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Old 12-08-2009, 11:58 PM   #31
Phoenix42
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

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Originally Posted by capnq View Post
Planet's predators could also cull ill or otherwise defective larger lifeforms, similar to the scavengers that eat dead or defective mindworms. They have the planetmind to guide them to prey that needs to be removed.

The game's artwork for the Locusts of Chiron [1] look quite wasp-like IMO, so other insect forms have a precedent. The "glue" that hardens into an Isle of the Deep's shell could have a more flexible variant for chitinous structures.

[1] The image displayed during combat that replaces the faction leader portrait, not the unit on the map.
I'm not sure they have the planetmind to guide them as such, since the planetmind is as yet not capable of doing anything conscious, nor is it self-aware. That being said, it wouldn't mean that predators don't use some sort of sophisticated tracking to guide them to the prey that is defective.

One could imagine, for instance, that herbivore animals (do or do not) secrete certain pheromones when they are somehow lacking certain hormonal input that they would require in order to fulfill their symbiotic task. The predators home in on those and get rid of them.

However, one problem I see for predators so far is that lion-type predators, that is ones that use an incredible amount of energy in one boost to catch the prey and then relax for the rest of the day, are unlikely. The only useful reactive for animal life in the atmosphere remains oxygen, and there is not enough to provide air for prolonged stressful tasks, especially above sea-level. Even with filter-lungs filtering out the nitrogen, they still couldn't attain the high level of activity exhibited by earth's life forms, simply because they lack the necessary oxygen (which is at 8% at sealevel on Chiron, rather than 20% on Earth) - unless they had some means of storing it...
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:29 AM   #32
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

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However, one problem I see for predators so far is that lion-type predators [...]
I'm not thinking of anything that large or energetic; I'm still talking about sloth-eating snakes. Snakes routinely eat things that are larger than their own diameter (by "unhinging" their jaws, for anyone who didn't know that).

I agree that the oxygen level will discourage large warm-blooded creatures.
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:10 AM   #33
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

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Even with filter-lungs filtering out the nitrogen, they still couldn't attain the high level of activity exhibited by earth's life forms, simply because they lack the necessary oxygen (which is at 8% at sealevel on Chiron, rather than 20% on Earth) - unless they had some means of storing it...
Storage could take all sorts of forms - an internal gas bladder, some form of chemical bonding that keeps the oxygen readily available but locks it into biochemical structures when it's not in use, or perhaps a biochemistry that "switches modes" and only uses the oxygen in its system when other criteria are met, allowing the creature to build up O2 in its system over time, then expend it as needed on demand - like "when adrenaline is also present", for example.
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Old 12-10-2009, 05:32 AM   #34
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

Okay, taking that one on, how about the following:

The Psi-Warbler
This semi-hexapedal creature is reminiscent of a cross between an archaeopteryx and a six-legged gecko, around 50cm in height and with a wing-span of around 90cm. The front arms' skin is webbed into crystallic wings similar in shape to those of a bat or flying dinosaur, though in colour and translucency they are more similar to the wings of dragonflies or other earth insects. Both the wings and the moveable back scales share this same, crystalline, semi-translucent quality. The other two pairs of legs are opposable, with sharp claws at their three-pronged appendages. When hunting or dormant, the warbler hangs upon fungus structures by its four legs and conceals itself by covering its belly and head with its wings. The wings then change colour to reflect and mimic the surrounding fungus. It should be noted that, unlike the chameleonids of ancient Earth, the warbler uses reflection, not mimicry, to achieve this effect.

The warbler preys chiefly upon smaller or same-sized creatures, but occasionally will attack larger creatures which, like many creatures on Chiron, seek the Fungus mats when nearing their death, and are thus weaker than their brethren. When it does so, it rotates its wings to their flying position and swoops down upon its prey in one flowing motion, latching onto the back with the lower claws and severing critical arteries and nerve clusters with its upper talons. The warbler remains latched on until its prey has died, then dissects it and carries the entire remains to its nesting area in the higher fungus regions, where a part is used to feed its young, but a larger part is actually processed by fungal symbionts in the gastrointestinal system of the younger warblers.

The Psi-Warbler, despite its name, actually has no known psionic abilities despite its living inside the fungal vortices. It earned its name due to the low-frequency cry it emits while filling its air-sack. The air-sack, located in the neck and protruding from it left and right in pulsating globes, is filled with oxygen stored a liquid compound, and provides oyygen for the the warbler's ferocious attacks. The characteristic cry resulting from the compression of oxygen into the compound, while not noteworthy for planetary life, is disconcerting for humans since it causes unpleasant resonances in the ear passages. Claims that prolonged exposure can cause madness or psionic fear have so far been classed as unfounded.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:34 PM   #35
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

P.S.: Further updates with the uploads.
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:02 AM   #36
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

Okay, the challenge returns:

There are still two slots that would have to be dealt with, somehow.
  1. Some sort of herd animal - the eastern continent and the central continent have large open plains, so I was wondering whether some sort of migrating herd creature would be possible.
  2. One of my players asked whether there are any animals on Planet that could be domesticated for riding. Now Sealurks, according to Svensgard, can be for exactly that purpose. How about land animals?

Any ideas?
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:20 AM   #37
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

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Originally Posted by Phoenix42 View Post
Okay, the challenge returns:

There are still two slots that would have to be dealt with, somehow.
  1. Some sort of herd animal - the eastern continent and the central continent have large open plains, so I was wondering whether some sort of migrating herd creature would be possible.
  2. One of my players asked whether there are any animals on Planet that could be domesticated for riding. Now Sealurks, according to Svensgard, can be for exactly that purpose. How about land animals?

Any ideas?
The Boneheads (my pseudo-rhinos) are herd animals.
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Old 12-12-2009, 07:43 PM   #38
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

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One of my players asked whether there are any animals on Planet that could be domesticated for riding. Now Sealurks, according to Svensgard, can be for exactly that purpose. How about land animals?
Note that Svensgaard mentions that you have to keep them away from the fungus; a riding animal is going to have the same problem.

A sudden fungal bloom during a riding expedition would be a nasty encounter.
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:19 AM   #39
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

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The Boneheads (my pseudo-rhinos) are herd animals.
Ah, sorry, I misunderstood that. Thx for the name, btw. - I'll be using it as the official name for it. That goes for all animals, incidentally - give them a name, and they'll always be called by that one in my campaign, and will of course be featured as such in the bestiary; see it as my small way of saying thanks for the help :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by capnq View Post
Note that Svensgaard mentions that you have to keep them away from the fungus; a riding animal is going to have the same problem.

A sudden fungal bloom during a riding expedition would be a nasty encounter.
Definitely true, good point (and I'll keep the bloom idea in mind for later use). The spaces between the fungus tracts are of course still so wide at points that it would be pretty safe to domesticate animals there, especially in early colony periods where a lot of farmers and other outdoorsmen-types might be lacking proper off-road vehicles.

Here are some interesting critters I just came across, btw, related or not:

http://www.hlug.de/medien/geologie/b...te/procyno.jpg
(a similar animal could be something the terrans domesticate as pets, it is kind of cute - maybe)

http://www.hlug.de/medien/geologie/b...lte/procy4.jpg
(a larger cousin - more likely to be a draft animal than a riding animal, but then again, who knows...)

And finally, this is actually just the leaf off some plant, but as an animal, it could really have quite a career:
http://www.gigantopteroid.org/images...sporoLeaf2.jpg

More on animals later...

Last edited by Phoenix42; 12-13-2009 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:58 PM   #40
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Default Re: GURPS Alpha Centauri

Okay, I've been off this for too long, the Believer campaign preparations took a broadside from my professor (real life interfering with roleplaying again... *sigh*), so I haven't been able to finish the uploads or bestiary completely, but for the former, check out the following:


http://smac.noventhehero.com/Alpha%20Centauri/

Thanks again to Noven for allowing me to upload to his webspace.
I apologise for some of the files being in German. I try to keep it monolingual, but with the game being in Germany and all, it does slip in...

As for the bestiary, it will come -

Btw, as animal (and other) inspirations go, was anyone else sitting in Avatar thinking "okay, this is so Alpha Centauri, just with blue freaky guys thrown in"? Because I know I was - especially the centauri rhino thing, I thought I was going to bust something when I saw this.
Speaking of which, any ideas on what animals one could cannibalise for AC (probably scaled down a little, and not quite over the top, in most cases, but anyway)?
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