WIP: Xenobioddity

And after writing 3300 words on excruciatingly detailed fantasy combat, I figured showing bits of some of my other works in progress might be fun. To that end, here are some early notes for a space/sci-fi hack of Into the Odd, tentatively titled Xenobioddity. The project’s on hold while I focus on Exhumed, and I still have some things to work out, but I’m looking forward to getting a chance to try it out this year.

Species

Follow standard Into the Odd rules to create a human, or roll on table to make a species. (In case it’s not clear, the “stereotype” column is very much meant to represent offensive views held by outsiders. The entry for earthlings would probably be “arrogant newcomers” or “kids with grenades” in the settings I’d be likely to run.)

Talents

You might get one as part of your starting package, or pick one when you level up. Or if random starting talents make sense, roll d10, or d12 if your species is capable of psi powers.

  1. Assassin. On your first attack on an unsuspecting target, up close and personal, bypass HP and armor to damage STR directly.
  2. Bodyguard. Once per round, save DEX to redirect an attack from another target to yourself.
  3. Engineer. Given enough time (referee’s call, generally no more than once per mission), you can design a countermeasure for a specific kind of threat (e.g., scramblers to repel Rigelian nanite clouds).
  4. Face. Pliable characters tend to believe your lies or follow your orders. Even those who might save against your words take the worst of 2 WIL saves.
  5. Hacker. Focus on your turn to take or maintain control of a computerized system. Save WIL if you need to avoid triggering countermeasures. Save WIL vs. WIL (highest successful roll wins, tie goes to you) to overpower a sentient AI target for their next turn; the target can attempt to save unopposed to regain control on their subsequent turns until you relinquish control.
  6. Infantry. Carry 1 bulky weapon and wear 1 bulky armor without penalty.
  7. Investigator. You can ask the referee for a solid hunch about something you’re investigating once per session.
  8. Medic. Restore d6 points to an ability score of someone resting. A target can only safely benefit from this once per mission.
  9. Scrapper. When you roll high on a melee attack (over half the original attack die’s max), you can reposition, knock down, or disarm a target as part of the same action.
  10. Shadow. You are silent and invisible in darkness, crowds, and ductwork, as long as you are not in a bulky outfit.
  11. Telepath. Sense surface thoughts and feelings from (and transmit your own thoughts and feelings to) someone close enough to talk to. Targets save WIL to block you out. Save WIL vs. WIL (highest successful roll wins, tie goes to you) to push powers further, like to edit memories or influence behavior, with risk commensurate with potency of effect.
  12. Telekinetic. Move small objects with precision, or clumsily lift or throw targets as large as a person. If used as an attack, striking someone with an object or slamming someone into a wall is d6 damage. Targets you try to move may resist with STR. Save WIL (vs. STR if there’s a sentient target, highest successful roll wins, tie goes to you) to push powers further, like to create force fields or unleash a blast across an area, with risk commensurate with potency of effect.

Ultratech

Fancy stuff that requires special training, cybernetic implants, military clearance, connections for rare prototypes, or access to remnant artifacts of advanced civilizations. (Or, as they say in Into the Odd, arcana.)

  1. Active Camo. Turn invisible until the end of your next turn. Requires an action to activate or maintain effect.
  2. Atomizer. Portable cannon that launches highly destructive warp field rounds. All in area save DEX to dive for cover, or else suffer d4 × 10 damage. Holds one round; replacement rounds can be prepared by carefully dismantling a starship drive core.
  3. Bose-Einstein Condensate. d10 DEX damage via an arm-mounted hose. Snap-freezes targets it drops to 0 DEX, turning them brittle.
  4. Electroshock. d6 damage via concealed, arm-mounted emitter. Briefly disables an electronic device or stuns an organic target who fails STR. 
  5. EM Shield. Wearable generator for a semi-permeable force field. Wearer is immune to all attacks until after they suffer at least 5 damage in a single round (or a single attack that disables electronics), deactivating the shield until you rest.
  6. Holoblade. d8 melee damage, ignoring armor. Also extremely useful as a cutting tool. Dematerialized while not in use.
  7. Holodrone. Deploy a baseball-sized, autonomous drone that can transmit live recon data and project holographic illusions.
  8. Medical Nanites. Regain d4 STR and d4 DEX after a full night’s rest. 
  9. Plasma Blast. d8 damage, ignoring armor, via an arm-mounted blaster.
  10. Scanner. Provides detailed information about molecular composition of organic and inorganic matter, capabilities of known technologies, behavior of catalogued species, etc.
  11. Sensor Array. Know the shape, size, and location of all warm and/or moving targets in the immediate vicinity. 
  12. Sub-dermal Layer. +1 armor.

Further considerations

I need to decide whether I’m more likely to use this to run something like Guardians of the Galaxy or to specifically run a Mass Effect campaign. If it’s the latter, I’m likely to approach “talents” a little differently, so as to highlight that series’s traditional combat/biotics/tech breakdown, and I might rethink energy shields as (bonus?) HP—not an ultratech rarity, but something practically any combat-ready character has access to. But then again, I could also finish up the game as something more broadly usable and make small tweaks like those after the fact to suit the needs of my home group. We’ll see where it goes in time.

One thought on “WIP: Xenobioddity

  1. The way it reads now feels more Guardians than Mass Effect, at least to me. I still think Stars Without Number’s 3 classes, with the fourth hybrid class able to combine 2 of the former, matches Mass Effect’s class setup the best.

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