Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Monster: Reticulans!

Reticulan in Vacc Suit
The Reticulans are one of the so-called "Precursor Races" of my Alkonost Cluster/Sector for Stars Without Number. Their vast majority is now long dead, though dormant motherships still linger in some places, most notably the benighted world of Carcosa in the Alkonost Sector.

They are small, slender humanoids similar to the archetypal "Grey Aliens" of UFO lore: standing approximately 140cm tall, with large heads and almond-shaped multifaceted eyes, little or no nose and a small, toothy mouth. They exhibit both mammalian, reptilian and insectoid characteristics, and are typically dressed in a utilitarian harness carrying tools, sometimes in addition to a deflector belt projecting an energy shield defending the alien from attacks.

The Reticulans wereshaped by two main biological facts about their species: they reproduced asexually through parthenogenesis (similarly to aphids and certain species of whiptail lizards on Earth), and, originally, were scavengers who ate prey long after the predators killed it and ate their share.

Reticulan in force field
All Reticulans are "female" - each lays eggs several times in "her" life, each egg eventually hatching a Reticulan hatchling. No sexual contact with other individuals is required for this form of reproduction. This creates relatively less genetic variety than sexual reproduction, but the hatchlings are not exact clones of their "mother" (though they are pretty similar to "her"). This led to the initial hypothesis (by Humans when they first encountered their ruins on Zeta 2 Reticuli) that the Reticulans are all artificial clones - but, in reality, they are not. The implication of this is that all the social constructs based on sexual reproduction, such as family, love and so on found in Humans, are alien to Reticulans. The basic social unit is the "mother" and her "daughters", and, eventually, a genetic "line" tracing back to a single progenitor "mother". There is never a question put to a Reticulan's parentage: whoever laid the egg is the "mother". It also means that a single healthy Reticulan can colonize a planet in several generations' time.

Reticulans examining a human colony
Originally, the Reticulans were scavengers, eating remains of the prey of bigger predators. They never fought the predator, or the various hijackers, but rather waited for them to finish, then moved to feed on the remains. This made them relatively unadapted to physical fighting; lacking a reason to fight over mates (due to a-sexual reproduction) made even less evolutionary reason for them to be efficient physical fighters. Tool use allowed them to chase away predators from prey, and thus get a bigger part of the carcass, and, eventually, hunt themselves, and, later on, raise livestock. But poor fighters they remained - except for using various machines to fight the sporadic wars between groups. But, generally speaking, if possible, Reticulans see tools and technology as a solution to things, and their rulers are typically "tool-makers" (in later times, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs) rather than warrior-types. As a spacefaring civilization, they fought using robots, as well as alien auxiliary troops and mercenaries. They can fight, but lack the instincts or muscle mass to be efficient soldiers (they were better as spies or as behind-the-scenes tacticians). The archetypal Reticulan government was a technocracy; their Empire, was led by monopolist mercantile-industrial Great Houses (each controlled by a genetic line), and, on top of that, an Imperial line controlling the biggest corporation.

All Reticulans are Psychic to a certain degree. Most have very rudimentary telepathic abilities, but their leaders possess great psychic strength. The Reticulans who survive to this day have avoided destruction or madness during the Scream as they were held in stasis or suspended animation, oblivious to the world around their dormant motherships. Now, here and there, their survivors might be awakened from their millennia-long slumber to face a different, alien world. There they attempt to study the new times in their typical inquisitive manner, such as by performing tests and dissections on captured specimen and spying on the "younger" sentients.

Note that Reticulans have access to Tech 5 gear and artifacts, though most of them will be unable to manufacture much new technology as almost all of their industrial worlds are gone. The typical Mothership may fabricate a limited amount of spare parts but lacks any proper industrial capacity.

Reticulan Technician
Armor Class: 6 (basic force field)
Hit Dice: 1
Attack Bonus: +2
Damage: 2d6 (Thermal Pistol), range 25m/50m
No. Appearing: Team (2d6)
Saving Throw:  15+
Movement: 20m
Morale: 7

This is the typical Reticulan worker, technician or low-rank researcher - not trained for combat, but rather for self-defense, and equipped with a "Plasma Pistol" (AKA Thermal Pistol - SWN p.37). "She" will fight only to defend herself or her ship, and is not a soldier in any way, but will, in many cases, participate in abductions, dissections and assorted low-grade espionage work. A Reticulan Technician may use any of the Levels 1-3 Telepathy powers at will, and will typically communicate telepathically with "her" fellow Reticulans as well as with other sentients.

Reticulan Security
Armor Class: 2 (Deflector Array)
Hit Dice: 2
Attack Bonus: +4
Damage: 2d8 (Plasma Projector), range 50m/100m
No. Appearing: Security Detail (1d6)
Saving Throw:  14+
Movement: 20m
Morale: 9

While the Reticulans lack proper front-line soldiers - they prefer to relegate this job to robots or to alien shock-troops - they do have a highly-equipped and well-trained security force aboard their motherships. A typical Reticulan shore (or abduction) party will include a Security Detail armed with "Plasma Rifles"(AKA Plasma Projectors - SWN p.37) and equipped with Deflector Array-equivalents and trained in combat. A Reticulan Technician may use any of the Levels 1-3 Telepathy powers at will, and will typically communicate telepathically with "her" fellow Reticulans as well as with other sentients.

Reticulan Leader
Armor Class: 0 (Field Emitter Panoply)
Hit Dice: 6
Attack Bonus: +6
Damage: 2d6 (Thermal Pistol), range 25m/50m
No. Appearing: Solitary
Saving Throw:  12+
Movement: 20m
Morale: 12

Each Reticulan unit is led by a leader of great psychic abilities and an unmatched intellect. "She" may use any Telepathy powers of levels 1-8 at will as well as Telekinesis and Biopsionics powers of levels 1-4. The leader is also capable of mind control - three times a day, "she" may Enslave a sentient creature; the victim must save vs. mental effect, or become the Reticulan's mental thrall, fully under the alien's command. An Enslaved creature obeys the Reticulan’s telepathic commands until the Reticulan is killed, and can attempt a new save vs. mental effect every hour to break free. The control is also broken if the Reticulan dies or travels more than 1 mile from "her" slave.

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