Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Traveller Sandbox Game Mechanics: The Mizuchi, An Alien Parasite...

Good Afternoon, All:

In creating additional game mechanics for the Traveller Sandbox Experiment, I know that we will need to create a small bestiary for some of the specific creatures we mention in our write-ups. The first of these (and the one that I'll do as an example today) are the mizuchi, lethal parasitic creatures commons to the jungles of Prishiboro (Segin 2810 E596568-5). We've established that they are small, gather together in nests, and that they tend to enrage any creature that they infest.

Here's an Expanded Profile for their homeworld, for our review as we examine the :
Prishiboro (Segin 2810 E596568-5): Starport Class E (Frontier); Medium (Low-G); Dense (Tainted); Wet World; Mod Pop (200,000); Colony/Captive World; High Law; Industrial Tech. No Bases. Trade Codes: Agricultural World, Garden World, Low Tech and Non-Industrial World. Jengu Alliance.

Looking in the Main Rulebook, we can find a Terrain DM Chart for creating new creatures on pg 70. We can see there that jungles have the following DMs: Type DM -4, Size DM +3. A roll on a d6 gives us a 4, which indicates a Walker. We already know that our creature is a parasite, so I choose Carnivore/Pouncer to reflect a parasite that leaps out and attacks it's prey. (I'm looking for a "Horror"-type effect here, so I can play it up later during the game.) I'll make note that Pouncers have Stealth, Recon and Athletics, as well as Dexterity +4 and Instinct +4.

With that, I determine the mizuchi's Size modified by terrain type, 2d6-4, to come up with a Size 4 creature. Twelve kilograms is a bit large for a parasite, so I'm going to drop this down to a Size 2 creature. Three kilograms sound about right. This means that Strength is 2, while Dexterity is 1d6 (+4 from terrain), and Endurance is also 2. A quick roll of a die gives us a 6, which means the mizuchi has a Dex of 10.

Looking at Weapons and Armor, I roll 2d6 for each table. For Weapons, there's a DM +8 for Carnivores. My results are (a roll of 10, DM+8, equals) 18 for Weapons, and 5 for Armor. That's a Thrasher+2, but I'm not picturing the mizuchi as having a Thrasher, and see it as more like a leech with a nasty bite, so I drop down to the next lowest table entry, Teeth+2. The mizuchi has Armor 1.

I then determine the mizuchi's Instinct and Pack scores. For Instinct, I roll 2d6, plus the DM for being a Pouncer, and get (a roll of 4, DM+4, equals) 8. For Pack, I roll 2d6 to get a score of 10. This is perfect for the description of large nests, so I let it stand. We'll give this creature an Intelligence of 0, since it maddens the beasts it connects to.

Skills are going to be fun. Let's start with the basics: Athletics 0, Recon 0, Survival 0. We get 1d6 ranks to divide among these, as well as Melee(teeth) and Stealth. A roll of 5 tells me that I have five ranks to pass around. There are five skills, so I'm tempted to put one rank in each skill. Since I want a sneaky Pouncer, I will take one rank from Recon to boos Stealth, which gives me the following: Athletics(co-ordination) 1, Melee(teeth) 1, Recon 0, Stealth 2, Survival 1.

Attack damage is simply 1d6, although the Teeth+2 tells us that it does 3d6 with its powerful bite. As for the number encountered, a Pack of 10 tells us that the creatures often occur in groups of 3d6. I decide to note their typical reactions: if the mizuchi has surprise, it attacks; if it is surprised, it flees.

Finally, we should note any Planetary Quirks, per the checklist on pg 72 of the Main Rulebook. Under Locomotion Quirks, we can see the example "Hijacks the bodies of other creatures". Yep, that's the one we want. Game mechanically, that would probably look something like this: The mizuchi must move into Personal range, and beat its target in an opposed Melee(teeth) vs the target's Melee(unarmed) skill check. If the mizuchi wins, it attaches to the target and can't be removed except by the Grappling rules on pg 64. Once grappling, if the mizuchi succeeds in any further opposed checks, it will either inflict 2+Effect damage, attempt to induce a state of frenzy in its target by driving it mad with pain and enzymes, or just hold on. Any target that tries to avoid being induced in a state of frenzy must succeed in an Endurance check (see pg 48 for details), or be driven to flee in pain, attacking any creature that attempts to stop it from running. An enraged creature runs until it succeeds in an Endurance check to regain its faculties or until it drops in its tracks from exhaustion. I'm sure circumstances might change the above somewhat, but at least I have an idea of how to use this parasite in-game now.

Okay, so putting it all together, I get the following creature stat block:

Pouncer (Carnivore)     Jungle Walker     Str 2, Dex 10, End 2, Int 0, Instinct 8, Pack 10
Athletics(co-ordination) 1, Melee(teeth) 1, Recon 0, Stealth 2, Survival 1
Teeth (3d6), Hide (1). Number encountered: 3d6.
Tiny (Size 2), vicious parasites that latch on to targets and drives them mad with pain.

With these details, it becomes easier for me to create an encounter where the PCs inadvertently stumble into a nest of these creatures, suffering vicious bites as the mizuchi attack them from surprise. After that, it's all a matter of how tough the characters are and how quickly they can disperse of these small but nasty little foes. This will at least create some interesting moments during an exploration of the ruins of Kojiki in the jungles of Prishiboro.

Next up: we're going to tackle some homeworld tables.


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