Xenobiologist

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Maleficium
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Xenobiologist

Postby Maleficium » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:28 pm

Hey everyone,


I’m preparing my first Traveller campaign and aim to stick to the official universe as much as possible. As source material, I bought The Great Rift and Pirates of Drinax. Both are very well written and lay good grounds for adventure. Loved reading them so far and I already have tons of ideas on how to unfold the campaign (Drinax storyline included).

Now, one of my players want to play a xenobiologist. I wouldn’t have trouble including one in 2300AD or Eclipse Phase but OTU gives me nothing. What would one do in Traveller universe? First contacts have been made and there’s very little left for speculation. I would imagine that researching the ancients is more archeology than biology and Dr Zoidberg type of ship doctor that specializes in alien physiology is just a medic.

I do have some ideas but would love to hear your opinion as well.
phavoc
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby phavoc » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:46 pm

Your xenobiologist may specialize in alien lifeforms, period, not necessarily limited to sohpont lifeforms. If that is the case then virtually every world in the Trojan Reach (assuming you will be playing there) will have some lifeform that might be newly discovered.

Plus with the age of the worlds he could be looking for genetic drift, tampering or otherwise evidence of altered human, vargr and aslan genomes. Or animal species that have been created by exposure to war or in a laboratory.

You aren't limited to species already found. Think of the movie Alien. There could be other lifeforms out there (the Aliens, the Engineers, etc). If you want to create a plot line ala Aliens, your PC could stumble upon a newly discovered link, perhaps inserted by Grandfather or one of his children long ago. Combine that with the plotline for the ST-TNG episode "The Chase". Instead of using all those other ST races you could use the planets in the Trojan Reach as the sources for your search.
Reynard
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Reynard » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:50 pm

Have all the OTU worlds been extensively studied? Obviously not if the scout branch still exists in an enclosed empire. There are 11,000 world of which many are still low (or no) population wildernesses with lots of Outdoors to explore and LOTS of lifeforms hidden or little understood. Never let 'reality' get in the way of good sci-fi.
Sigtrygg
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Sigtrygg » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:59 pm

A biologist studies organisms native to Earth, and those worlds terraformed to terran norm with all native life wiped out. This would include biologically engineered terran organisms.

A xeno-biologist studies organisms native to every planet other than Earth.

There is plenty for a xeno-biologist to do...
RogerMc
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby RogerMc » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:45 pm

Consider buying Theories of Everything which is a basically an eccentric group of scientists bumming around on a lab ship mini campaign.

And remember a PC can have multiple careers - a spell in college studying xenobiology, a couple of terms in the Scouts survey branch and then a couple of terms as a scientist/researcher would produce a reasonably rounded character.

Give them skill in medical and he or she'll be a literal life saver as well.
paltrysum
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby paltrysum » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:05 am

Just wondering how much your xenobiologist is going to want to commerce raid Imperial and Aslan starships. Not that it can't be done, but fitting that role into a "Pirates of Drinax" campaign is going to take some creativity. Now the "Great Rift" on the other hand...
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Maleficium
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Maleficium » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:54 am

Thank you everyone. My main problem might have been the fact that I've always envisioned how xenobiologists would work in first contact situations or in scenarios where humans are the only players around at the moment. You're absolutely right that there's a lot to do for a xenobiologist in Traveller universe. The role is just a bit different but it would still make for an interesting character to play.
paltrysum wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:05 am
Just wondering how much your xenobiologist is going to want to commerce raid Imperial and Aslan starships.
Really good point. I intend to kick off the campaign with Islands in the rift - adventure. After that I though the group would run into some kind of trouble with the imperium (maybe regarding the ownership of the ship from that adventure) and they would have to flee the imperial influence. This brings us conveniently to the Trojan Reach. I'm still very open on the direction as I want to include as much freedom and trading into the campaign as possible and it might just be that I will have a completely separate run for the Drinax campaign. Theories of Everything is on my list. The premise seems very interesting but a lot depends on what the rest of the group is going to play. If I know my players at all, one is going to be a navy officer and the other will be some kind of engineer type. But hey, I love the challenge of getting a rag tag group plausibly into all sorts of situations.

The ways of the character generator are unknown and I don't want to force it too much but I loved the genetic drift idea that came up in one of the replies. I though that the xenobiologist part would mostly come into play in forms of story and roleplaying. Maybe the character went to university and worked on some controversial subject on genetics and human origins. The political ramifications of his research were too much for the standing powers and he was shot down. Some of his former colleagues still believe he should go on with the research and that the proof would be found in the Islands sector original settlers and ultimately the Florian League in the Trojan reach. After being disgraced in the science world, he was drafted to navy as a ship medic. This would be his main role in the adventures. Roleplaying a deeply analytical and may a little insane paranoid science guy sounds like a nice challenge. But again, one of the best parts of the Traveller system is the uncertainty of the character generator. We'll see what comes up :)

By the way, is there anything similar to D&D monstrous manual or Alternity Alien Compendium published for Traveller? Something with strange aliens that you could throw in on players. The random generator is great but I would love to see what others have come up with. I'm running the New Traveller but I wouldn't mind doing some conversions if a really good source book comes from other game.
RogerMc
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby RogerMc » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:51 pm

Perfect fictional inspiration would be Dr Maturin in Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander books (and the film of that name)

He is technically a ship's surgeon but also a botanist, zoologist etc who when he is not sawing bones after naval battles catalogues the flora and fauna of every new island they visit.

Plus in Traveller terms he also would be an Agent as well as a Scientist and a Medic as he is an accomplished spy.

In Pirates of Drinax terms I can well see a dilettante-ish noble filling all those roles.

And if you start off in The Islands - something I've considered myself - before going to Drinax you come from a colony isolated from almost all of the rest of known space for literal millennia, so of course an eager xenobiologist would jump at the chance to visit strange new worlds even if it means joining a crew of desperadoes.
Last edited by RogerMc on Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Old School
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Old School » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:14 pm

Most any skillset can be incorporated into the Pirates Campaign, and the Campaign itself can be run several different ways (some groups have minimal actual piracy, for example). My question would be if the player who wants this character wants to play a Pirates campaign. He or she may be looking for an entirely different game experience.
paltrysum
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby paltrysum » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:42 pm

Maleficium wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:54 am
Maybe the character went to university and worked on some controversial subject on genetics and human origins. The political ramifications of his research were too much for the standing powers and he was shot down. Some of his former colleagues still believe he should go on with the research and that the proof would be found in the Islands sector original settlers and ultimately the Florian League in the Trojan reach. After being disgraced in the science world, he was drafted to navy as a ship medic. This would be his main role in the adventures. Roleplaying a deeply analytical and may a little insane paranoid science guy sounds like a nice challenge. But again, one of the best parts of the Traveller system is the uncertainty of the character generator. We'll see what comes up :)
Sounds like a guy who could fall into commerce raiding to me. :)

Terrific! Please be sure to let us know how it goes. I love the idea of using "Islands in the Rift" as a segue into "Pirates." Great idea.
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
Old School
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Old School » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:54 pm

I love the idea of using "Islands in the Rift" as a segue into "Pirates." Great idea.
You sound like PsiTraveller. You guys and your freaking prequel campaigns. :D

I’ll be happy if I can just finish one campaign.
Maleficium
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Maleficium » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:26 pm

Old School wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:54 pm
I love the idea of using "Islands in the Rift" as a segue into "Pirates." Great idea.
You sound like PsiTraveller. You guys and your freaking prequel campaigns. :D

I’ll be happy if I can just finish one campaign.
Well...I actually have a one session intro for the prequel :) My players have no prior experience in Traveller and I have the benefit and burden of steering them into that world. For this, I'm going to crash land them into Amondiage desert (they have no idea of where they are). I created a condensed "mini version" of the traveller universe with various settlements separated by endless desert. Players will have to fix a crawler from the crashed ship and negotiate their way through the desert and tribal politics to figure out where they are and how to get back to civilization. And of course, cram their crawler full of trade cargo and make some money. There's also a sub plot of big corporation using very invasive methods of extracting local resources that players might or might not have to deal with to get out. For me, a big part of enjoyment comes from the planning phase and this might show as obsessive-compulsive over detailing :)
paltrysum
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby paltrysum » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:40 pm

Old School wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:54 pm
You sound like PsiTraveller. You guys and your freaking prequel campaigns. :D

I’ll be happy if I can just finish one campaign.
Haha! Come on, Old School! It's not enough to simply finish a campaign. One must do it artfully. :lol:
Maleficium wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:26 pm
Well...I actually have a one session intro for the prequel :) My players have no prior experience in Traveller and I have the benefit and burden of steering them into that world. For this, I'm going to crash land them into Amondiage desert (they have no idea of where they are). I created a condensed "mini version" of the traveller universe with various settlements separated by endless desert. Players will have to fix a crawler from the crashed ship and negotiate their way through the desert and tribal politics to figure out where they are and how to get back to civilization. And of course, cram their crawler full of trade cargo and make some money. There's also a sub plot of big corporation using very invasive methods of extracting local resources that players might or might not have to deal with to get out. For me, a big part of enjoyment comes from the planning phase and this might show as obsessive-compulsive over detailing :)
Same for me. I can't tell you how much material I've generated that goes to waste, but I really don't mind. As a referee, half the fun for me is the preparation. I had intended to run "Islands in the Rift" myself at one point but it hasn't panned out yet. I'm ready miniature-wise, though!

Image
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Condottiere
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Condottiere » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:49 am

Image

Inventor and operator of the mushroom drive.
Linwood
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Linwood » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:03 pm

You could adapt an adventure like Chamax Plague and drop it in on an appropriate world. Maybe have the plague originate from an unknown world inside the Great Rift? That would put the xenobiologist front and center of the party. There are several other one-offs out there that could be used that way.
NOLATrav
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby NOLATrav » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:37 pm

The Classic module Nomads of the World Ocean is an excellent adventure dealing with harvesting pharmaceutical components from a unique life form. It details the life stages and ecosystem quite extensively and sets up a seagoing battle with a megacorp.

It is originally set on Bellerophon in the Solomani Rim but Chalchiutlicue is a water world just a few parsecs from Theev...
Sigtrygg
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:51 am

Also the CT adventure Safari Ship - there is a big secret for a xeno-biologist to discover in that one too.

Then of course there is Signal GK with one of the setting defining discoveries...
Maleficium
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby Maleficium » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:12 pm

NOLATrav wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:37 pm
The Classic module Nomads of the World Ocean
Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:51 am
Also the CT adventure Safari Ship
Nice, thanks for the tips, both adventures sound really interesting! Our Xenobiologist might just become the central character in the whole campaign. I will check these out. Do you know if they are still available as separate publications in DriveThru?

Before I settled for Traveller, I bought MindJammer and "City People" adventure. Did some preparations for the adventure and it was in my opinion one of the best adventures I've read in a while. It was a shame that I didn't get to run it. It was actually so good that I will probably convert it for the Traveller universe as Xenobiologist might as well be the one saving the day in that situation. Also it would be really easy to move it to the Old Islands story wise.
paltrysum
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby paltrysum » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:14 pm

Adventure 10: Safari Ship is available in PDF format: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/80 ... afari-Ship

There's also a GURPS Traveller Planetary Survey Book, Denuli: The Shrieker World, that details the same world from Safari Ship 15 years later. GURPS Traveller is no longer canon from what I understand, but the book still has some great ideas you can use. You can get a copy on eBay for a reasonable amount.
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NOLATrav
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Re: Xenobiologist

Postby NOLATrav » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:03 pm

Nomads is available for $5 on DriveThru:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/80 ... orld-Ocean

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