If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

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ShawnDriscoll
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If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:55 am

For me. Two nipples is not right somehow, physically. I picture Vargr being closer to canine than human.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Reynard » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:45 pm

Checking the MegaTraveller vargr sourcebook, the female vargr does indeed have a milkline of three pairs. Even so, vargr have been modified physically to humanoid standards. They have hands rather than forepaws, walk bipedally and have voice boxes plus the brain structure to speak.
Their bipedal stance and manual dexterity also also ment modifying the shape of the chest. Most animals have an elliptic 90 degrees to primate. Great for four leg movement. A broad chest allows flexability to limbs ment to grasp. This arrangment also carrying infants and this is where the child will feed.

Vargrs have twins often but can have litters of three, four or five. That may explain the milkline, enough to spare just in case though the illustration I saw showed the second and especially the third pair being less developed. This probably reflects a tradeoff since a vargr female would be a bit unbalanced and clumsy with greater 'developement. Physically, they're fine as they are.

My concern is the muzzle and speech. Alien Module 2 does state their muzzles are shorter due to dietary consiteration but I'd also think it allows more articulated speech. I see 'p', 'w' and 'b' are missing so they have a hard time pursing their 'lips'. Most illustrations show pronounced muzzles. I'd say a shorter muzzle would be a better representation than the exaggerated honkers I see.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:26 pm

Muzzles' would be the next thing I'd change if Vargr are to speak. Shorten it like a Boston Terrier's. Because if you look at a Vargr's helmet, it is shaped like a muzzle. Preventing one to talk while wearing the thing. I don't know if Boston Terriers were available 300,000 years ago. :) But the Mongoose AM2 book does mention the short snout, while the artist (once again) has not read the text before drawing stuff, which means artwork does no match descriptions (see Aslan book).
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby dragoner » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:58 pm

My vargr:

Image

I wouldn't change a thing.

edit: oops broke that link cleaning stuff up, here is the original.
Last edited by dragoner on Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Jame Rowe » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:40 pm

My version of Vargr would have them evolving on Lair. Modified by Ancients yes but still from Lair.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Colin » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:33 pm

Base them on dire wolves. That would be frightening.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Epicenter » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:55 pm

Besides get rid of them? :wink:

There's a lot of problems with the Vargr in my opinion. Obviously, Traveller has a lot of really cartoony "alien" races where there's really been no attempt to make them alien at all since the game is more "Star Wars" than "2001" but Vargr and K'kree sort of the take the cake for me, mostly because I think with rewriting they'd be pretty interesting.

I don't think the Vargr snout would be that big a problem, tbh. Whichever Traveller writer came up with the Vargr obviously had some big thing for wolves, so they look like wolfheads. But I really doubt they'd end up like that once they became Vargr. The Ancients were looking for servants. I'd imagine that some Ancient decided to try Uplifting wolves on a whim and for the challenge (there's much better species to use as servants on Earth). But regardless, I've been reading about the Russian Silver Fox domestication process, and I'd imagine even with genetic engineering, the Ancients would have used the shortest path what they want. They'd domesticate the wolf to make them more tractable servants. So Vargr would probably actually look more wolf cub like than adult wolf. Rounded ears, shorter muzzles, curling tails, and so on (now I'm sure someone will say "they wanted them to look like wolves, though" ... so how's that explained by giving them hands and making them walk upright...?)

Stylistically, with all that fur, I doubt Vargr would normally wear clothes. Clothes catch on the fur and would rub it off/tug at it, and make for one unhappy wolfman. Since I have to agree a furless wolfman would be pretty grotesque, let's keep the fur. If the Ancients kept the fur, you'd probably see Vargr being able to have much more coat variety than a normal wolf to allow the Vargr to avoid wearing clothes in most climates. A few to acclimatize, and the Vargr coat would get thicker or thinner. They're still tool-using beings so I'd imagine you'd see Vargr with harnesses and so on. Vargr that deal with humans a lot probably wear clothes just to conform to human standards of decency though (they'd probably remove them as soon as they get home and complain about having to wear 'monkey suits').
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby locarno24 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:28 pm

Functional clothing, yes.
Not for warmth, but a mechanic would still want coveralls and gloves - lubricant or adhesive crud is going to be an even bigger deal to a Vargr than a human - I speak from (unfortunate) experience it's easy to get off skin compared to what happens if you let some of that stuff get in your hair....

Equally, safety specs and hats, tool harnesses, body armour, possibly footwear - bare claws on starship decking leads to embarrasing scrabbling.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby kafka » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:31 am

Certainly making them more aggressive is the key. These are not orcs but embodiment of all the worst nightmares of future humankind. However, as you interact with them more, you learn about the different sub-species that may or may not be as agressive. Essentially, I liked how White Wolf handled werewolves and lots of ideas from that have informed how I play the Vargr.

And, given that their cultures are so mercurial, trying to describe any one pocket empire would be a nigh high impossible task akin to 100 unearthing of Troy. However, racial pride is the single most dominant feature to all. Thus, I see Vargr as the consumate racists hell bent on destroying anything that stands in their way - however, their biggest problem is that humaniti (in the form of the Vilani) got there first. And, because, there is no cohesion they cannot act in concert...to take the stars as their own...so ultimately tragic figures...hence, sometimes the comparison with Klingons.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Epicenter » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:37 am

kafka wrote:Certainly making them more aggressive is the key.
About the only the reason I can think of that'd be remotely logical of why the Ancients would have Uplifted Vargr, besides just on some whim to "see if it could be done" would actually be if the Vargr were meant to be a control for various irritating intelligent races and feral humans.

Feral humans would exist in any population of human servants - some humans would decide they don't want to work with the Ancients. If the Ancients liked human creativity and didn't want to bind that part too much, you'd have human escapees of individuals, families, perhaps the occasional community would wander off / flee from Ancient control and go off and do their own thing. You'd also have various alien races that are on the nice green worlds that the Ancients perhaps liked to live on and conduct experiments on.

The Vargr would have been the solution to cull those kinds of populations. Since the Ancients don't want to make these races extinct, they just want to keep their numbers low and keep them from interfering with their projects. That's what the Vargr do. They're intelligent pack hunters. Initially the Ancients just used wolves or whatever else they could get their hands on, but they realized, humans as tool-using creatures would eventually evolve their tools and get the upper-hand on the culling creatures. To keep costs low, the Ancients essentially slapped human-style tool-using intelligence onto wolves and adapted their bodies (minimally) to be able to use captured human tools or human tools they made themselves.

To keep the Vargr from being an irritant themselves, Vargr aren't actually very good tool-makers; they're not good engineers or builders partially due to how their intelligence is engineered, partially because of the small, fractious packs they live in aren't conducive to specialists who are key to developing a technological society. Left on their own, they'll never advance their TLs.

However, they're keenly observant and like to imitate. If they see that a human bow and arrow arrangement is very effective at killing their spear-using hunters, the Vargr would start experimenting with bows, first captured bows they get from humans, then moving on to making copies of the bows. They're not very good innovators, either; they're not good abstact thinkers. Concepts like, "I wonder if this would be better" doesn't really occur to them. They adapt by observation. They won't invent new kinds of bows or improve the bow designs they copy - if there's a bow upgrade then they found a human using one and took it. They naturally cannot maintain a civilization greater than about TL1. They can capture weapons and human slaves to maintain a civilization at a higher TL, but due to Vargr nature, inevitably these civilizations experience a slow decline; Vargr are destroyers, not builders.

In the long span of years since their original uplift, they've been evolving from the original model. Modern Vargr can tolerate each other somewhat better, at least enough to enough to maintain some semblance of a society. They're still not very good technological innovators; their TL actually matches their neighbors, often slightly behind. Through wars with the Vilani and Solomani and everyone else, they've culled a lot of their really aggressive members. Those who have bred since can control their predatory instincts better. Many Vargr are able to live content lives amongst humans by the era of the TI.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Jame Rowe » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:04 pm

I would actually make them less mercurial and more pack-oriented.

The packs might still be mercurial but the membership of the pack is less prone to change.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:29 pm

Jame Rowe wrote:I would actually make them less mercurial and more pack-oriented.

The packs might still be mercurial but the membership of the pack is less prone to change.
Doesn't Mongoose's Vargr book go heavy on the pack idea?
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby hdan » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:03 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:Doesn't Mongoose's Vargr book go heavy on the pack idea?
It does. That's one of the (many) things I like about that book. Another is the Charisma tracking rules. That one set of rules makes me want to run an all-Vargr campaign.

I wouldn't change the Vargr themselves very much. I'd keep them a major race who discovered jump themselves and colonized space on their own before Humaniti contacted them.

I do like the idea that they were created as "guard dogs" 300k years ago, but their personal discipline and pack cohesiveness (at least on a small level) allowed them to develop relatively sophisticated technologies over the millennia. I would not reduce them to tech scavengers, though them having a more pragmatic approach to technology (the scrounging stuff from the MgT book) is fun and helps make them quirkier.

I like the idea that you can use Vargr as everything from the fearsome harbingers of chaos and death to friendly, clever and charming allies.

I would return to the older style visual presentations for them - less like human bodies with dog heads. Apes have broad shoulders, canines do not.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby mr31337 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:09 pm

I just can't get my head around the idea of walking-talking dogs and cats in Traveller these days, but for some reason I just accepted it back in 1982. Let's face it you've got to eat a lot of mushrooms before you have your "Dude, lets make talking dogs who can fly spaceships," moment. I don't care how genetically engineered the Ancients made them, it's still one of the most laughable space opera aspects of Traveller.

I'm running an OTU (95-99%) campaign and I still haven't decided how to go with Vargr, but I need to make a decision fast. I'm leaning towards some sort of human-like humanoid who perhaps has some dog dna spliced in as a nod to the good old days of Traveller. In other words look like humans, but hairier and have the same traditional behaviourisms & tech Vargr have always had.

Yes, I know I'm an OTU heretic. :P
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby dragoner » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:27 pm

T5 Vargr are a Chimera, which is that they are a genetic human/wolf cross. Meta IMTU the ancients created Vargr to try to keep humans in line (the development of humans by the ancients was a sorcerer's apprentice moment), but which didn't work as planned.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby hdan » Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:14 pm

mr31337 wrote:"Dude, lets make talking dogs who can fly spaceships,"
We know they can play poker, so why not? ;)
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby Epicenter » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:07 pm

mr31337 wrote:I just can't get my head around the idea of walking-talking dogs and cats in Traveller these days,
Vargr bug me more than Aslan. Aslan I can accept as "well they kinda looked like walking cats to the first humans who saw them, so they got shoehorned into it, even though they're not."

Vargr are outright canon as to wolves what SPAM is to meat.
mr31337 wrote:but for some reason I just accepted it back in 1982.
You were a kid. :wink:
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby dragoner » Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:43 am

I want the sense of wonder back that I had in 1982.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby kafka » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:04 pm

Epicenter wrote:
kafka wrote:Certainly making them more aggressive is the key.
About the only the reason I can think of that'd be remotely logical of why the Ancients would have Uplifted Vargr, besides just on some whim to "see if it could be done" would actually be if the Vargr were meant to be a control for various irritating intelligent races and feral humans.
Remember, different Ancients had different agendas...they may all be clones of Grandfather (my personal theory) they still represent different aspects of his own Schizophrenic psyche. Hence, like all of his experiments...we can only know in the time after fall of the Fourth Imperium and Distant Future when we reach the Heat Death of the Universe...when the end becomes the new beginning. Clearly, Marc (or Harshman or whomever) created the Vargr as standard villains when they were first introduced but then wanted to shake things up by giving a society. Then when it was possible that they could become PCs alongside regular Imperial PCs - they lost some of that magic or mystery. I favor introducing back some of the mystery. Part of that is the standard description of the Vargr we see are Imperial accounts...as nobody has penetrated the core the Extents - there lies the mystery why the Vargr were created. And, the answer could well be - to see if it could be done. Or it could be some aspect of their racial profile will serve an upcoming adventure that started in the time of the Ancients and will only be resolved in the distant future.
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Re: If you could change the Vargr, how would you?

Postby mr31337 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:17 am

Epicenter wrote:
mr31337 wrote:I just can't get my head around the idea of walking-talking dogs and cats in Traveller these days,
Vargr bug me more than Aslan. Aslan I can accept as "well they kinda looked like walking cats to the first humans who saw them, so they got shoehorned into it, even though they're not."
Perhaps Aslan should be more like the one in Epic Movie? :P

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