Chapter 6: Aliens

Like all other generation systems in EXP, the alien persona generation system can create very individual (i.e. bizarre) creatures of varying intelligences, strengths and descriptions. Persona aliens are created completely randomly and their niches in the campaign sotry can vary greatly. The personas could be introduced as natives of an unexplored world, as members of a conquering alien horde, as the offsprint of biological experimentation or any combination of these.

It is usually considered that the player is generating the attributes for an entire race, in which case her persona becomes an individual belonging to this alien race. For convenience, the alien persona is considered an exactly average free-willed representative of this species and the referee is expected to splice this new race into the existing campaign. The player’s business involves the running of her particular alien and the referee is responsible for the alien race. Usually alien personas will never encounter members of their own race. The referee should remember that she can alter the nature of an alien to suit her campaign as she sees fit.

Role-Playing Aliens

Role-playing an alien is trickier than role-playing an anthropomorph and these players have more problems than usual in adjusting to their personas. The aliens are generated randomly and their shape, size and powers vary greatly. For instance, the player may have to relate to a persona that is bright pink, waving multiple appendages, wagging a tail, sporting antlers or having no limbs at all.

As with robot personas, alien personas will have to learn to restrain the urge to personify their aliens. If the alien lacks a head, arms, legs or some other fundamental feature, the player will have to adjust accordingly.

Players running aliens will have to use the most refined imaginative role-playing skills. They will have to imagine grasping items with tentacles; realize that humanoid seats were not necessarily designed for them (if “sitting is even possible); get accustomed to their massive (or diminutive) size; accept alien priorities (e.g., eating vs. remuneration); and adapt to a host of other special circumstances. If your persona were a flying anemone, you may have difficulties with such mundane tasks as turning door handles or firing humanoid weapons.

Astounding Stories June 1938. Shadow Out of Time by HP Lovecraft. Illustration by H. Brown.
Even lovingly crafted aliens are hard for players to play.

There is no reason to assume that the alien’s psychology will be even remotely similar to the player’s or to any other humanoid. Alien goals may be as primal as food procurement or as sophisticated as galactic domination. The player may even find her persona restricted to one particular biome, unable to roam freely like other personas. Thus the player has to deal not only with the physiological aspects of her alien persona but also with an alien psychology. The problem is not that aliens have no personality but that it most certainly will be far from human-like. This problem of alien physiological and psychological personification is going to be the greatest challenge the player will face during actual role-play and hopefully the most fun!

Limits of the Alien Generator

There are limits to what the alien generation system can produce. Aliens that are blobs of gas, crystalline rock formations or distinctly humanoid cannot be randomly created with this system. This system cannot be expected to produce a perfect, ready to use alien. It is meant to be used to generate all the biological particulars – attributes, size, movement, damage, etc. – of an alien persona as well as a haphazard physical description. If the referee wants a particular type of persona with particular looks, size and attributes, it is recommended that she refer to the Referee Personal chapter (11) where referee aliens are discussed. Chapter 11 discusses all types of referee personas including how to generate aliens that suit the scenario or campaign.

Evolving Aliens

The values generated in this chapter are considered to be the mean values for an adult of the species. Any alternations due to age, sex, climate, etc. are left to the ref to accommodate. Personal idiosyncrasies of the alien are left to the player. To properly generate an alien persona, the player must follow the Alien Generation Checklist.

Table 6.1 Alien Generation Checklist

The steps needed to evolve a new alien player persona.
1)Attributes
2)Size
3)Hit Points (HPS)
4)Number of Attacks
5) Damage
6)Combat Table
7)Armour Rating
8)Description
9)Movement
10)Mutations
11)Age
12)Biology
13)Society
14)Alien Name
15)Experience

1) Attributes

Alien attributes are generated in a different manner than those of other personas. The attributes being generated are considered to be the mean attributes (average) for an entire alien race. This presents no problem for the player because her persona is considered to be a model example of an adult alien. All her attributes are exactly average and they require no adjustment upwards or downwards. However, if the ref decides to have attribute differences due to sex or age, it is up to her to determine these deviations. The player rolls her persona’s attributes on the Mean Attributes Table.

Alien attribute scores are the same as any other personas, whether that persona is a robot or a humanoid. An alien PSTR of 12 is no stronger than a humanoid PSTR of 12 which is no stronger than a robotic PSTR of 12. There is a subtle difference in that aliens can begin a campaign with a zero attribute. If a zero is rolled for any of the alien’s attributes, some special conditions will have to apply.

Generating Attributes: Like other personas, the alien attributes are generated once for each attribute. Aliens use the Mean Attribute Table to determine their attributes. For example, CON, DEX, INT and MSTR are supposed to be generated on 5d6 -5. This means that fixe six-sided dice are rolled and 5 is subtracted from their total. It is essential that these attributes be rolled on the number of dice given. This assures a good statistical curve of attributes for all aliens generated.

Table 6.2 Alien Attributes

How to generate attributes for alien player personas.
Alien AttributeAttribute RangeDice Rolled
Alien AttributeAttribute RangeDice Rolled
AWE, CHA3-183d6
CON, DEX, INT, MSTR0-255d6-5
PSTR0-306d6-6

Zero Attributes: Certain of the alien’s attributes can have a nominal value of zero; however, this number has somewhat different implications than it would for an anthropomorphic persona. For instance, if the DEX roll were 0, the creature would be sessile (immobile).The DEX should be re-rolled to determine limb co-ordination and aiming ability. If CON were 0, this would mean that the creature has no hit points. Such a situation could be interpreted to mean that they lack a life force and do not appear to be alive as usually defined. However, their CON would be re-rolled to determine how much damage they can take before disintegrating. The re-rolled attributes are the same as any other persona’s attribute and, if any of these are reduced to zero, the alien is irrevocably dead. Such explanations could be invented for DEX, INT, MSTR AND PSTR.

On the edge of the galaxy by Ernest Hill Virgil Finlay Illustrator Worlds of IF (October 1966)
Gigantic aliens are hard to play with and harder to play.

2) Size

The size of an alien may seem like an irrelevant die roll but, aside from determine size and wate, it helps decide the alien’s hit dice and damage. Like the alien attributes, size indicates the mean racial wate and this will perhaps vary for individual aliens. Size is determined on the Alien Size table, which gives both a general adjective and a wate range. The size of an alien does not determine its shape, which is created under Alien Description in this chapter.

The size die roll is adjusted by the persona’s DEX and PSTR. The player adds her persona’s PSTR to the die roll and subtracts her aliens’ DEX from the die roll. This should reflect the basic biological principle that stronger creatures are usually larger and more dextrous creatures are usually smaller. This principle is not entirely correct but the Alien Size table roll should be adjusted by those attributes. If the adjustment is forgotten and the persona is completed, there is no re-rolling of alien size. This gives an added randomness to the creation of aliens.

A player whose alien has a 12 DEX and a 22 PSTR would add 10 to her deci-dice roll and a die roll of 67 would be adjusted to 77 and the alien would be large sized. She rolls 39, 41, 11, 89 and 67 for her 5 d100 rolls. Her alien’s wate is 347 kgs. Her alien has no description, no name and no abilities to speak of but its wate is 347 kgs. Often the size of an alien will be noted by the first letter of the size adjective – e.g., L for Large.

Table 6.3 Alien Size

Determine the size and wate of the alien. Size is an important attribute of the alien determining hit points and damage.
Die Roll (d100)Alien SizeWate Range (kgs)How To Roll Wate
Die RollAlien SizeWate (kgs)Dice combo for wate
01-05Tiny0-9d10-1
06-25Small1-50d100/2
26-75Medium51-100d100/2+50
76-96Large105-6005d100+100
97-00Gigantic606-66006d1000+600
Tom Corbett Space Cadet Adventure: Danger In Deep Space By Carey Rockwell, Tech adviser Willy Ley. Illustrator Louis Glanzman Gosset and Dunlap 1953 Hazlitt Alva Cuppy PH.D., Editor Beauties and Wonders of Land and Sea (Springfield, OH: Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick, 1895)
Very small aliens are often vulnerable.

3) Alien Hit Points

Alien HPS depend on their size and their CON. The alien’s size determines the type of die that is used to generate the alien’s HPS and the alien’s CON determines how many times the die is rolled. The die type is determined on the Alien Hit Point table and it is rolled once per point of CON that the alien has.

According to the table, a player running a large alien with a 9 CON would roll 9d10 to determine her alien’s HPS. The numbers generated on each die are cumulated as the person’s HPS. If the player had rolled 4, 5, 2, 6, 8, 3, 5, 6 and 7, her alien would have 46 HPS. The HPS max and the dice rolled should be recorded on the personal record sheet of the alien.

Table 6.4 Alien Hit Points (HPS)

Determine how much damage the alien can withstand.
Alien SizeHit DieAmount of Dice RolledHPS Range
Alien SizeHit DieAmount of Hit Die RollHPS Range
Tinyd41d4 per point of CON0-100
Smalld61d6 per point of CON0-150
Mediumd81d8 per point of CON0-200
Larged121d12 per point of CON0-300
Giganticd201d20 per point of CON0-500

Alien Death: One final, very important point that players with alien personas must remember, especially those expecting to be involved in combat, is that aliens, unlike other characters, are DEAD at zero hit points. Aliens are not required to make Damage System Shock rolls regardless of how much damage they have taken, however , when they reach 0 HPS, the persona is irrevocably dead.

4) Number of attacks

The number of attacks a denizen is entitled to is usually its most important offensive combat parameter. The number of attacks that an alien gets is determined by a deci-dice roll (d100) on the Number of Attacks table. Players add 1.3 their DEX to the d100 roll. Thus a persona with a 15 DEX would have 5 added to her die roll.

In Value Deceived by H. B. Fyfe 1951 Illustration by Edward Cartier Scanned by Mike Moscow
Many hands many attacks.

The number of attacks indicates how often the creature may roll to hit each unit. The attack refers to the alien’s natural attack. The damage of an alien’s natural attack is listed under damage in this chapter. The number of attacks does not refer to any sort of technological weapon or mutation-like attack that has a preset attack frequency. The number of attacks refers only to the creature’s natural offences – tentacle to tentacle combat so to speak.

Table 6.5 Number of Alien Attacks

Determines how many natural attacks the alien can make each combat unit.
Die Roll (d100)Number of Attacks
Die RollAttacks Per Unit
01-101 per 2 units (1/2 per unit)
11-801 per unit
81-902 per unit
91-963 per unit
97-994 per unit
00Ref's Own Table

One attack every second unit may seem very slow, until one fabricates some possible reasons for this. Perhaps the race is inherently non-combative and too many of the alien’s blows are being easily blocked. The alien may have a high DEX but in combat it is just plain slow. Conversely, high attack frequencies can turn an alien with an average damage per attack into a killing machine and may require justification by the referee.

5) Damage Per Attack

Alien damage per natural attack is determined from the Alien Damage Table. Yet there are subtle complexities about the damage itself that must be considered. The player must decide how the alien attacks – whether it punches, kicks or gores or whether it fires lasers, spits acid or electrocutes. This is determined on the Attack Type table.

Multiple attacks also pose a slight problem. If an alien has three attacks, it is unlikely that it claws, bites or kicks three times in one unit (unless, for example, it has three mouths). If the ref feels it is necessary or if the description dictates, multiple attacks can be given different damages where the different damages represent different types of attack. Normally there is only one attack and that is repeated several times.

Damage Per Hit: Consider a gigantic alien with a 13 PSTR and three attacks. According to the Alien Damage table, the alien would inflict 3d12 (3-36) HPS damage each time it scores a hit. A deci-dice roll on the alien Attack Type table is 57. This alien would inflict its damage by a type A attack: contact. The type of physical attack that is employed, whether it is biting, slashing or clawing is determined by the player. Aliens do not get a damage adjustment like other personas. The amount of damage an alien inflicts already includes its PSTR.

Table 6.6 Alien Damage Per Attack

Determine the amount of damage a successful alien attack will inflict.
Alien PSTRTinySmallMediumLargeGigantic
Alien PSTRTinySmallMediumLargeGigantic
0-5d4d6d10d12d20
6-10d6d8d12d203d10
11-15d8d10d203d103d12
16-20d10d123d103d124d10
21-25d12d203d124d104d12
26-30d203d104d104d125d10

Alien Attack Type: The alien attack type categorizes the alien’s damage into one of the 3 basic weapons types discussed in Chapter 28: Weapons. Type A attacks are thrusting and striking attacks and some examples of some alien thrusting and striking attacks are given. Type B attacks are ranged attacks that are powered by the alien herself. These could be quills or spittles that can be hurled up to a length equal to the persona’s PSTR. Aliens that have attack type C have a naturally evolved attack that resembles a weapon rolled from Chapter 46: Guns. The attack will be modelled after the weapon rolled in Chapter 46, having the same damage, range and rate of fire. For example, an alien could spit seeds like a fully automatic rifle.

Table 6.7 Alien Attack Type

Determine what weapon type the alien's natural attack resembles.
Die Roll (d100)Attack TypeExamples
Die RollAttack TypeExamples
01-75Type ABite, punch, lick, rake, gore
76-97Type BSpit, breath, quill, spray
98-99Type CBullet, lazer, dart, ray
00Ref's Own Table

6) Combat Table

The alien combat table is much simpler than the one for humanoid personas. Aliens which have classes should use the regular combat table that is described in Chapter 27: Tactical Combat. The combat table here is for the alien’s natural attack type. If the alien only has a type A, type B or type C natural attack, then the combat table need only include those attack types. Tool using aliens should use the combat table detailed as generated for Anthropomorphs.

The combat table for alien natural attack is very brief. There is no bonus non-proficient (BNP) column because an alien can’t be unskilled with its own attack. There is also no damage adjustment (DA) because the damage inflicted by natural attacks is moderated by PSTR. For example, an alien should not get a PSTR bonus on a Type A natural attack. This only applies to natural attacks.

Type A: Thrusting and striking weapons for aliens include their naturally endowed thrusting and striking attacks (bite, punch, claw, beak, gore, stab, rake, slice, gouge, tear, trample). Aliens using type A weapons are intelligent enough to warrant using the regular combat table for those weapons.

Type B: This attack type is designed for those aliens that fling objects, shoot quills or spit in an attempt to inflict their natural damage (spit, breath, blast, arc, spray). Any alien using a Type B weapon should use the regular combat table for that weapon.

Type C: Again, this is directed at those creatures with natural, powered attacks (lasers, sonics, electric arcs, radiation doses). Aliens with natural powered attacks are very rare and extremely dangerous. They have specially evolved organs that allow them to attack naturally but as a gun from Chapter 46. Any creature using powered weapons should use a regular combat table for those weapons.

Table 6.8 Alien Combat Table

A table for calculating a table.
Weapon TypeBonus Proficient (BP)Maximum Roll (MR)
Weapon TypeBonus ProficientMaximum Roll
A (contact)10 times PSTR700 plus BP
B (ranged)10 times INT750 plus BP
C (weapons)10 times DEX800 plus BP

For example, Sal the gigantic alien has a 22 PSTR,  15 DEX,  3 INT and a type B attack (spitting sharp blobs of resin) that attacks three times each unit would have the following combat table:

Example Combat Table for Sal the Alien

Sal the gigantic alien has a 22 PSTR,  15 DEX,  3 INT and a type B attack (spitting sharp blobs of resin) that attacks three times each unit.
Attack TypeBPBNPMRDA
Attack TypeBonus ProficientBonus Non ProficientMaximum RollDamage Adjustment
A--------
B50508004d12
c--------

7) Armour Rating

Only the AR in terms of aliens is described here. Armour rating is covered more thoroughly in Chapter 29: Armour Rating. Alien AR includes its dexterity, agility, hide structure, body structure and any other natural devices that have evolved to avoid getting damaged or captured.

What fraction of a creature’s AR depends on dexterity is subjectively determined by the DEX roll. If the alien has a high DEX, its natural AR most likely consists of dodges and deaks. An alien with a low DEX is more likely to have a thick hide or a defensive body structure (internal or external).

Regardless of the alien’s DEX, or description, the AR is determined completely randomly. The alien’s AR can range from 503 to 800. This is the average natural armour rating for completely nude and un-armoured members of this alien race. Any armour that is worn by an alien will increase its AR from this value. So, in essence, this is the alien’s base AR. Getting specialized alien armour is not discussed here but will make the alien even harder to hit.

If a player were to roll 15, 89 and 64, her alien persona would have an AR of 668 and any to hit roll would have to be higher than that value to score a hit.

ALIEN ARMOUR RATING (AR) = 500 + 3d100

8) Description

The description system for aliens is, at best, wild and unpredictable. The description is achieved by choosing body parts from an enormous list of past and present earth dwelling denizens. Each creature listed on the Alien Body Part table should be familiar to anyone reading it. However, the random combination of these parts creates a strange description indeed. To create a plausible description, the players must remember that the alien parts merely resemble those of the familiar creature and are proportional to each other in size.

Alien Proportions: It is essential that the proportions of the body parts be kept in mind. If the alien has the body of a bear and head of a mite, it is not a big ball of fur with a microscopic head; the creature is better described as a medium (rolled on size charge) sized creature with an insect-like head atop a bulky, furry body. The mite’s head would be a size proportional to the bear torso. When adjusting the alien description to fit the relative body sizes, do not disregard the size of the alien, rolled earlier. If an alien is a tiny creature with the body of a sperm whale and the head of a giraffe, remember that it is still tiny and has a tiny giraffe’s head and a tiny sperm whale’s body. Also, if an alien has the legs of an ant but is gigantic, then the alien has sig gigantic ant legs.

External Appearance: Another problem people have when using this system is that they apply their scientific knowledge and not their imagination to the generated descriptions. Comments such as the following abound: “…an amoeba of that size couldn’t possibly support its own weight in…”. The alien is not a 542 kg pink amoeba; it is something that has a wate of 542 kg, is pink and bears a striking resemblance to an amoeba.

The rolls merely indicate that the alien’s shape strongly resembles the particular earth creature part. The familiarity is totally visual and there is no reason to assume any internal similarities whatsoever. For example, an alien may look like it has the head of a wasp, the torso of a porcupine and the flippers of a walrus. However, its internal composition will consist of highly alien biological workings that can only be guessed wildly at.

The “black box” physiology of the alien is very convenient; it allows the ref to create imaginative “biologically” based explanations for any of the alien’s peculiar attributes, abilities or limitations.

Although all the steps described will very straightforwardly deliver an alien, this is not meant to be a rigid system. Feel free to at any time manipulate the description of the alien. Add or remove special adornments, slap in new eyes or antennae, change the mouth, re-roll the coat etc. Alter and mould the creation into the form of the perfect alien, creature, denizen, beasty or whatever.

The alien description seems quite sterile because it is. A mundane list of words and parts don’t have the synergistic effect of seeing the whole creature. This is why a drawing is recommended. Regardless of how poorly the alien is rendered, even the attempt to join all the body parts together will help solidify the alien description.

Description and Movement: Beside each creature type are letters contained in brackets. These letters indicate the types of earth terrain that the creature type is mobile in. Land creatures have an “l” for land; flying creatures have an “a” for air; and aquatic creatures have a “w” for water. Sessile creatures have an “s” for sessile (non-mobile). Sessile creatures are usually found in certain environment types as listed above. A rabbit is a land creature (l); an alligator is both aquatic and land (l,w); a hawk is airborne (a); a duck is all three (l,a,w); and an anemone is sessile aquatic (s-w). These parameters should be recorded on the persona record sheet.

Things Pass by Murray Leinster Thrilling Wonder Stories, Summer 1945 Earl Bergey illustrator
No body parts no shape.

None and Unknown Parts: If the body part is unknown to the players or ref, it is best researched in a dictionary or an encyclopaedia. If the body type rolled should happen to be “None” then the alien does not have, or has no use for, that particular body part. A creature with no head may have sensors attached to the torso; a creature with no legs may move by means of the torso or be immobile; an alien with no body parts at all is the type of non-entity that livens up campaigns.

Generating the Description: The size of the alien has already been determined. The alien’s shape is now determined with four separate rolls on the Alien Body Part table. Each alien rolls for a head, torso, arms and legs. The four divisions are given to divide up the four most basic structures that any life form would be expected to have. Such classic divisions should not be interpreted to mean that all aliens have such standard structures.

1) Head: The Alien’s head type is the one that stores the alien’s brain, its primary sensors, and is usually located on the front of the alien. Once the head type has been determined, the player can make some decisions about the alien’s appearance. Should she use the neck attached to the head or wait for the torso? Does the description of the head indicate a possible attack mode for the creature? Should she roll for a special adornment (from the Head Adornment table)? Such decisions are purely cosmetic and should not profoundly affect the alien.

2) Torso: It is expected that the torso would be the most likely place for the alien to store its vital organs. Who knows what these vital organs might be or what they might process but they are more likely than not to be stored in the torso. Descriptively, the torso is probably the most general category of all the body part rolls and it can easily be melted into the limbs and head of the alien. Some considerations are: Whether or not to use the neck attached to the torso? Does the tail suit this alien? Should we add a special adornment from the Torso Adornment table?

3) Arms: Arms are the articulations of the alien. Because an alien has limbs that are designated for grasping, it does not immediately imply that the alien is a tool user. The alien might use the specialized limbs to pick berries or peel the flesh off of prey. Whether or not the alien is a tool user or civilized is determined under alien society in this chapter.

Even if it is decided that the alien should have arms with manipulative hands, the Alien Body Part table may still generate a body part that resembles a creature with either no arms (snake, paramecium) or a creature that has no digits (horse, shark). If the alien is supposed to be a civilized tool user but the animal type rolled has no arms but has flippers, hooves, fins or legs, then a specially evolved grasping attachment can be rolled on the Arm Adornment table. The Arm Adornment table should only be used as a last resort (read cop-out). Intelligent races that have hooves or flippers will most likely have designed their technology to accommodate such digits.

4) Legs: This alien part indicates the main form of locomotion that gets the alien around. Often an alien’s legs will not be legs at all but flukes, flippers, bulbs and blobs. If the alien has snake’s legs, it slithers about; if it has fish legs, it may wiggle or fin itself about; if it has parrot legs, it may have clawed bird-like legs, wings to fly with or both.

Whole picture: Once the basic body of the alien has emerged with head, torso and limbs all amalgamated satisfactorily, various adjustments and “cosmetic” touch ups can be incorporated. There are three Special Adornment tables (Head, Torso and Arms) to choose from. The last feature to be decided is the creature’s coat. Although the alien will consist of body parts resembling various animals, there is no reason that it must have a patchy appearance. The alien would most likely have a coat/hide colour that gives it camouflage to avoid hunters and catch prey.

Table 6.10 Alien Body Parts

Each alien rolls four times on the table, once for each of Head, Torso, Arms, Legs. The bracketed letters represents what that body part moves best in. l=land, w=water, a=air, s=sessile.
Die Roll (d100)(d6) 1-23-45-6
Die Roll 1-23-45-6
01-02Alligator (l,w)Gorilla (l)Platypus (l,w)
03-04Amoeba (w)Grasshopper (l,a)Porcupine (l)
05-06Amphioxus (s-w)Guinea pig (l)Preying Mantis (l)
07-08Anemone (s-w)Hammerhead (w)Priapolid (w)
09-10Ant (l)Hawk (a)Pterosaur (a)
11-12Anteater (l)Hectapus (w)Puffer fish (w)
13-14Antelope (l)Hippopotamus (l,w)Rabbit (l)
15-16Ape (l)Horse (l)Rat (l)
17-18Armadillo (l)Horseshoe Crab (l,w)Raven (a)
19-20Barnacle (s-w)Jellyfish (w)Rhinoceros (l)
21-22Bat (a)Kangaroo (l)Scorpion (l)
23-24Bear (l)Kelp (a,w)Sea Star (s-w)
25-26Beaver (l,w)Koala (l)Sea Spider (w)
27-28Beetle (l,a)Ladybug (l,a)Sea Urchin (s-w)
29-30Blimp (s-a)Lamprey (w)Seagull (l,a,w)
31-32Blue Whale (w)Lemur (l)Seahorse (w)
33-34Brontosaur (l)Leopard (l)Seal (w,l)
35-36Budgie (a)Lion (l)Shark (w)
37-38Butterfly (a)Lizard (l)Sheep (l)
39-40Cactus (s-l)Lobster (w)Shrimp (w)
41-42Camel (l)Lynx (l)Skunk (l)
43-44Capybara (l,w)Mammoth (l)Sloth (l)
45-46Cat (l)Manta Ray (w)Slug (l)
47-48Caterpillar (l)Marmot (l)Snail (l)
49-50Centipede (l)Mite (l)Snake (l)
51-52Chimpanzee (l)Mockingbird (a)Sperm Whale (w)
53-54Cicada (l,a)Mole (l)Spider (l)
55-56Clam (w)Moose (l)Sponge (s-w)
57-58Cockroach (l)Morel (s-w)Squid (w)
59-60Conifer (s-l)Mosquito (a)Stegosaurus (l)
61-62Coral (s-w)Moth (a)Swan (l,a,w)
63-64Cow (l)Mouse (l)Tarantula (l)
65-66Crab (l,w)Mule (l)Tarsier (l)
67-68Crocodile (l,w)Mushroom (s-l)Tasmanian Devil (l)
69-70Dog (l)Nototherium (l)Termite (l)
71-72Dolphin (w)Opossum (l)Tick (l)
73-74Do do Bird (l,a)Orangutang (l)Tiger (l)
75-76Dragon (l,a,w)Orca (w)Triceratops (l)
77-78Dragonfly (a)Osprey (a)Trilobite (w)
79-80Duck (l,a,w)Ostrich (l)Turtle (l,w)
81-82Elephant (l)Ox (l)Tyrannosaurus (l)
83-84Fern (s-l)Oyster (w)Viper (w)
85-86Ferret (l)Paramecium (w)Vole (l)
87-88Fly (a)Penguin (l,w)Vulture (a)
89-90Frog (l,w)Piranha (w)Walrus (l,w)
91-92Gila Monster (l)Pig (l)Wasp (a)
93-94Giraffe (l)Pillbug (l)Wolverine (l)
95-96Goat (l)Planaria (w)Wombat (l)
97-98Goose (l,a,w)Plasmodium (w)Worm (l)
99-00None (s)None (s)Ref's Own Table
assemblealien.97
Lobster, sparrow, tiger and walrus equals WAAAH!

Table 6.10.1 Example Alien Description

This example shows how to generate the appearance of each body part and how each body part appearance impacts movement.
Alien Body PartDie Rolls (d100, d6)AppearanceBest Terrain Type
Alien Body PartDie RollsAppearanceTerrain Best Type
1) Head39, 4Lobster (w)Water
2) Torso73, 6Tiger (l)Land
3) Arms(Old Body Part Table)Sparrow (a)Air
4) Legs90, 5Walrus (l,w)Land, Water

Various Adornments: These are optional variations on the alien’s appearance. In no way would they keep an alien from being a tool user, or being able to swim or fly. Again these are cosmetic.

Public domain: African art.
Mundane horse like alien with head adornments.

Table 6.11 Head Adornment

An accent for the head if desired.
Die Roll (d12)Head Adornment
Die RollHead Adornment
1Antenna(e)
2Antler(s)
3Ears (Table 6.10)
4Horn(s)
5Knob(s)
6Peak(s)
7Plume(s)
8Quill(s)
9Spines(s)
10Tufts(s)
11None
12Ref's Own Table
Public domain clip art.
Adornment or body part type doesn’t matter.

Table 6.12 Torso Adornment

An accent for the torso if desired.
Die Roll (d20)Body Adornment
Die Roll Body Adornment
1Arms Adornment
2Bump(s)
3Crest(s)
4Head Adornment
5Hole(s)
6Knob(s)
7Knurl(s)
8Lumps (wet)
9Lumps (dry)
10Ridge(s)
11Ruff(s)
12Scales
13Slime
14Spine(s)
15Spout(s)
16Tree(s) small
17Vine(s)
18Wing(s)
19None
20Ref's Own Table

Table 6.13 Alien Arms Adornments

Like bangles but built in.
Die Roll (d10)Arms Adornment
Die RollArms Adornment
1Adhesive
2Claws
3Hands (human)
4Hooves
5Magnetic
6Paws
7Pincers
8Talons
9Tentacles
10Ref's Own Table

9) Movement

Aliens can move up to one hex/unit per point of DEX. Denizens may hop, slither, scuttle, slime or gallop along with whatever form of locomotion is listed as legs in their Description. The type of creature part that is used to describe the alien’s locomotion will move at the designated movement rate regardless of what the description is. For instance, an alien that looks like a snail could move as fast as an alien that looks like a leopard.

If the creature type listed there does not have any obvious form of locomotion, it will still move and the player must use her imagination. The chance that an alien will be sessile is quite rare: the alien must have a zero DEX or all the creature parts must be non-mobile (s).

The fact that earth phrases like air, water and land have been chosen to describe alien movement should not limit the referee to these types of terrain. Aquatic (w) means liquid. It could be water or liquid ammonia. Airborne flying (a) does not have to be air but could be any gaseous atmosphere like carbon monoxide or smog. Let Table 6.19, Alien Biome (later in this chapter) decide the alien’s favourite atmosphere, not its movement type.

The system has some peculiarities which are not immediately obvious. If the alien has sea creature parts but lives on an arid planet, it will merely be slowed down but it will not die from dehydration. If the alien has parts all of one type then it will be restricted to that one environment. If the alien has body parts from amphibious creatures then it may be able to move equally fast on land as in liquid.

Movement and Description: The creature parts rolled do have an effect on the alien’s movement rate but not in the direct fashion that their description dictates their speed. As one would expect from EXP, there is a much more convoluted way to determine the alien’s movement rate (move). The alien’s DEX represents the maximum movement rate that an alien can travel at. Thus an alien with 12 DEX would have a base movement rate of 12 h/u. The alien’s movement rate is adjusted for different terrains and it will rarely move at its given maximum movement.

For example, each creature part listed on the Alien Body Part table has a terrain familiarity listed after it in brackets; for example, pig (l), hippopotamus (l,w) and sea urchin (n-w). It is these designations that determine the alien’s speed on land, in the air, and in the water. The terrain types are described under step (8) Description earlier in this chapter.

Quartering Movement: The three types of movement are land, air, and water and the alien’s movement rate is divided amongst these terrain types. Each of the four body parts is designated a certain terrain type(s). Every time that a certain terrain type appears, 25% of the alien’s movement rate can be achieved on that terrain.

If all four of an alien’s body parts (head, torso, arms, and legs) were derived from land creatures (l), then the alien would move at 100% on land. If it were an alien with a 12 DEX, it would move 12 h/u on land but it could not swim or fly. If the alien were to have three land creature parts (l) and one sea creature part (w), then it would move ¾ on land (9 h/u) and ¼ in liquid (3 h/u). If the alien had two land creature parts (l), one aquatic part (w), and one flying part (a), then it would move at ½ on land (6 h/u), ¼ in air (3 h/u), and ¼ in water (3 h/u).

The Example Alien Movement table has the movement rates calculated for an alien with three land parts, two airborne parts, and one water part. Note that none part simply reduces the alien’s total movement.

Table 6.14 Calculating Alien Movement

Use the best terrain types from the alien body part appearance to determine movement rates on different terrains.
Alien PartsTerrain Type ScoreQuartering ScoreTerrain MR (h/u)
Alien PartTotal Terrain ScoreQuarteringMovement Rate
Sheep (l)Land 3Land 3/4Land 12 h/u
Wasp (l, a)Air 2Air 2/4Air 8 h/u
Duck (l, a w)Water 1Water 1/4Water 4 h/u
None (s)

10) Mutations

Aliens have a chance of getting mutations; however, they are not generally considered mutations but natural abilities that function the same as mutations. An alien’s mutations apply to the entire race and are more like naturally evolved defensive or offensive abilities. Therefore, alien mutations are not considered mutations in the usual sense – as if they were abnormalities or variations from the norm. Occasionally mutations may force changes in the creature’s physical description as determined in the Description section. If a player running an alien wishes to mutate, she cannot adjust her chance of mutation like humanoid personas can.

Mental Mutations: The chance of an alien having a mental mutation is equal to the alien’s MSTR attribute. An alien with a 15 MSTR would have a 15% chance of having a mental mutation per mutation check. The player stops checking for mental mutations as soon as a roll is failed. So if the player were to roll 11 and 16, her alien would have one mental mutation. These mutations are described in Chapter 58: Mental Mutations.

Physical Mutations: The chance of a creature having evolved a physical mutation is equal to the creature’s CON. For example, a CON of 10 has a 10% chance of having a mutation. Once the alien has a mutation, there is an equal chance of having another. The alien can keep getting additional mutation-like abilities if it keeps making its percent chance. If the player with the alien that has a 10 CON were to roll 3, 9, and 41, her alien would have two physical mutations. The mutations are described in Chapter 59: Physical Mutations.

11) Lifespan of Alien

All personas except for robots have a projected life-span. The idea of an alien only living for a certain amount of time is a reflection of its biological nature. The life spans of aliens can be very alien indeed when compared to those of humanoid personas.

The referee should have the alien’s life span reflected in the society of the alien species. Very long lived species would have fewer offspring and possibly take less risks than short lived aliens; possibly arguing that they have very much more to lose than a species that will only enjoy existence for a few years. They could equally likely get profoundly bored and take tremendous risks. Although this should not impinge on the way the player runs her persona, ignoring the fact that one is going to live several thousand years would not be very realistic role-playing.

Calculating Lifespan: Determining the alien’s life-span is done in two parts. First the absolute life-span of the alien is rolled on the Alien Life-span Table. This deci-dice roll determines the longest that the alien can live in a number of years. Peculiar things like differences in year lengths must be considered by the referee but it is assumed here that all year lengths in EXP are equal. Second is the distribution of the alien’s life stages. This part determines what percentage of the alien’s life will be spent as a child, an adolescent, an adult, or as an older member of the race. The effects of these different stages are the same for all aging personas and are discussed in Chapter 13: Health.

Table 6.15 Alien Lifespan

Determine the total life span of the alien.
Die Roll (d100)Maximum AgeDie Roll
Die RollMaximum AgeDie Roll
01-101-101d10
10-2510-601d6 x 10
26-7550-12050 + (1d6 x10)
76-85110-160100 + (1d6 x 10)
86-93160-250150 + (1d10 x 10)
94-95100-6001d6 x 100
96-95100-12001d12 x 100
99100-1000001d1000 x 100
00Ref's Own Table

Alien Life Stages: The alien life stages are quite superficial indeed. They do not consider alien aging peculiarities like pupal stages, physical transformations, dormancy, or years of dependency. An alien persona will always start the campaign as a young adult and most developmental problems like dependency and pupal stages should have been avoided. The referee could propose transformations that would alter the appearance of the alien as it passed from one life stage to another. Except for developmental changes unique to the alien, aliens suffer the same attribute adjustments as they pass through the various life stages. See Chapter 13: Health.

Table 6.16 Alien Life Stages

Anthropomorphizing alien life stages for our convenience and fun.
Life StageProportion of Life Span
Life StageProportion of Life Span
ChildFirst 1-10%
Adolescent1-6%
Adult10-80% (10d8)
OlderRemaining Life Span
AgedLast 1-4%

Example Alien Life Span: If a player were to have rolled 82 on the Alien Lifespan table, then her alien would have an age between 160 and 250 years old. She determines her persona’s maximum possible age to be 200 years. The results of her rolls on the Alien Life Stages table are given below. Note that the aged category must be rolled before the older category can be determined. The alien’s start age should be about 29 to 30 years and on its 169th year, it will be in the older category and at 197 years in the aged category. After 200 years, it has exceeded its life expectancy. For the effects of these age changes, see Chapter 13: Health.

Table 6.17 Example of Alien Life Stages

An example of how an alien life span can be divided into different life stages.
Life StagePercent RolledLength in YearsAges in Years
Life StagePercent RolledLength in YearsAges in Years
ChildFirst 10%20 years (10% of 200)1-20
AdolescentNext 4%8 years (4% of 200)21-28
AdultNext 70%140 years (70% of 200)29-168
OlderRemainder28 years (200-172)169-196
AgedLast 2%4 years (4% of 200)197-200

12) Biology

All of the alien information up to this date is considered biology but the biology covered here represents superfluous information that will only subtly affect the nature of the alien; whereas the previous biology represented factors that affect the attributes of the alien personas like movement, combat abilities, size, etc.

Biology gives a very brief description of where the alien fits into its ecological system. The biome describes the terrain that the alien is accustomed to living in. The last five tables provide some extra insight into what makes an alien tick. They may seem trivial at first but can be very important under certain circumstances.

Table 6.18 Alien Biology Checklist

Determine the basics of an alien's biology for purposes of history and fun.
a)Alien BiomeTable 6.19 Alien Biome and
Table 6.20 Biome Characteristic
b)Energy SourceTable 6.21 Alien Energy Source
c)Procurement StrategyTable 6.22 Alien Energy Procurement Strategy
d)ReproductionTable 6.23 Alien Reproductive Method
e)Habitat TypeTable 6.24 Alien Habitation Type
f) AromaTable 6.25 Alien Aroma

6.19 Alien Biome

Yields a basic description of the type of terrain, or even world, that alien comes from.
Die Roll (d100)Biome Type
Die RollBiome Type
01-08Coniferous
09-16Deciduous
17-24Desert
25-32Farm
33-40Grassland
41-48Industrial
49-56Megalopolis
57-64Oceanic
65-72Ruins
73-80Tropic Forest
81-88Tropic Grassland
89-99Tundra
00Ref's Own Table

Table 6.20 Alien Biome Characteristic

Modifier of the alien biome.
Die Roll (d100)Biome Characteristic
Die RollBiome Characteristic
01-10Normal
11-20Toxic
21-30High Gravity
31-40Low Gravity
41-50Thin Atmoshphere
51-60Dense Atmosphere
61-70Underground
71-80Aboveground
81-90Mountainous
91-99Extraplanetary
00Ref's Own Table

Table 6.21 Alien Energy Source

Determines what the alien consumes for food.
Die Roll (d8)Energy Source
Die RollEnergy Source
1Herbivore
2Carnivore
3Omnivore
4Chemosynthetic
5Photosynthetic
6Detritovore
7Psionic
8Ref's Own Table

Table 6.22 Alien Energy Procurement Strategy

Determines the most common method how the alien acquires it's energy source.
Die Roll (d8)Procurement Strategy
Die Roll (d8)Procurement Strategy
1Ambush
2Chase
3Hunt
4Trap
5Infect
6Infest
7Store
8Ref's Own Table

Table 6.23 Alien Reproductive Method

How the alien persona makes more alien personae.
Die Roll (d8)Reproduction
Die RollReproduction
1Mitosis
2Oviparous (hatched)
3Spores
4Viviparous (Marsupial)
5Viviparous (Placental)
6Parasitic
7Fusion
8Ref's Own Table

Table 6.24 Alien Habitation Type

The alien's preferred location for rest and storage and shiny objects.
Die Roll (d12)Habitation Type
Die Roll (d12)Habitation Type
1Burrow
2Cave
3Dam
4Hive
5Hole
6Hollow
7Home
8Web
9Foliage
10Trees
11None
12Ref's Own Table

Table 6.25 Alien Aroma

What the alien smells like to other personae.
Die Roll (d100)Alien Aroma
Die RollAlien Aroma
01-03Alcohol
04-06Apples
07-09Ashes
10-12Bananas
13-15Beans
16-18Beer
19-21Bologna
22-24Bread
25-27Chives
28-30Chocolate
31-33Cigarettes
34-36Cinnnamon
37-39Corpses
40-42Estrogen
43-45Grease
46-48Hay
49-51Hemlock
52-54H.P. Sauce
55-57Ink
58-60Leather
61-63Lemons
64-66Methane
67-69Oats
70-72Oranges
73-75Pork
76-78Rubber
79-81Salmon
82-84Sawdust
85-87Spruce
88-90Swamp
91-93Tar
94-96Tuna
97-99Whiskey
00Ref's Own Table

13) Alien Society

Alien society is something for the referee to carefully consider and prepare for her campaign. Alien societies can even be the basis for an entire campaign. The differences in values, architecture, and social organization alone amongst alien cultures would be beyond the duration of a life time of study.

Most of the persona aliens will be rogues or outcasts that have rejected their alien culture thus allowing them to form their own cultural niche. The referee cannot possibly prepare a detailed alien society each time a player generates an alien persona. For the most part, alien personas will not be members of galactic societies or developed countries. If some idea of the alien’s society is necessary but total preparation is not, the referee should turn to Chapter 11: Referee Personas and determine the society’s religious, political, and philosophical beliefs.

Alien Communications: The aliens that are generated as personas are usually from non-tool using, non-civilized, and otherwise un-organized species. For role-playing convenience, the aliens almost always will be able to communicate with the other personas and only the most malicious referee will not allow an alien persona this leniency. It is unrealistic to think that an alien will be able to converse freely with humanoid personas but remember that this is science fantasy and fun must win out over realism.

Tool Users: The most important roll for any player running an alien is whether her persona is a tool user or not. There is a percentage chance that the alien species will be tool users equal to the alien’s INT. Thus, an alien with a 13 INT has a 13% chance of being a tool user. Aliens that are tool users are allowed one roll on the TOY system (Chapter 41) to get one device which is adapted for their own use.

Tool users can easily use artifacts that are designed for them and can adapt themselves to use artifacts that are designed for humanoids. An artifact would be considered alien to an alien if there were a drastic difference in size; if the alien had no digits that could obviously operate the artifact; or it the referee were in a petty mood. The chance of this happening can be determined by rolling Sphincter dice as described in Chapter 19: Special Rolls.

Adapting to a Tool: When a tool user encounters an artifact that it cannot manipulate easily, then it must try to adapt to the artifact. This means that the alien will use its tongue instead of a finger or a hoof instead of a hand. The chance of successfully adapting to an artifact is equal to twice the alien’s DEX. If it cannot adapt itself then it CANNOT use the artifact. Thus a tool using alien with a 10 DEX that encounters an alien (to it) artifact has a 20% chance of manipulating the device. If it fails, then the alien CANNOT use the device. Biologists can aid the alien in adapting to its device and mechanics can adapt the device itself.

Naudsonce by H. Beam Piper Illustration by Morey Analog Science Fact Science Fiction Jan 1962
Beasts of burden.

Non-Tool Users: According to the dice, most aliens will be non-tool users. The referee may automatically allow alien personas to be tool users to increase their involvement in the game. The referee should not depend solely on the dice rolling of her players. If a player comes up with an ingenious idea about how her persona can manipulate a particular artifact then the persona should be able to do so. Role-Playing should overcome dice rolling.

Trying Anyway: Non-tool users must make an INT check against percentile dice to see if they can even begin to comprehend a particular artifact. Non-tool users must make this check for every artifact that they encounter. Even if they succeed in identifying an item as useful, then they must adapt themselves to the artifact as a tool-using alien would have to adapt to a foreign artifact. It will be rare indeed when a non-tool using alien will be able to deploy a technological device.

Alien Education: Alien education implies that the alien has developed a curiosity about the natural world that far exceeds the animal awareness that most creatures have. If an alien is a tool user, then there is a percentage chance equal to her INT attribute that she will be educated. This roll is required by all alien personas whether they are run by a referee or a player. It is not recommended that referees allow player run aliens to automatically be educated as is done with tool users.

Educated aliens can pursue persona classes like anthropomorph personas. All requirements and abilities for these classes are the same as listed in Chapter 8: Classes. Once an alien adopts a persona class, it may become a very dangerous alien indeed. The referee may invoke class restrictions she feels are necessary to ensure a game balance. Could you imagine trying to fairly referee an invisible, 900 kg, flying spie? Just this one sentence may keep the referee from allowing alien personas from ever pursuing classes.

14) Alien Name

Giving a name to an alien is different from naming any other character because the player must name an entire race as well as itself. A few pointers on naming aliens are listed below:

1) The denizens of unexplored planets on which there is no intelligent life do not have names and it is up to the players to christen them. Until that time, the referee must assign serial numbers for identification of the creatures.

2) Most denizens have more than one name. They have a scientific name that identifies the creature’s kingdom, phylum, etc. and another “pet name”. Humans go by the “pet name” of “man” but also have the more specific classification of: Animalia, Chordata, Vertebrata, Mammalia, Primates, Hominidae, and Homo Sapiens.

3) The alien’s mode of communication (decided by the referee) may not allow for a regular name. If the creature uses binary clicks, body shapes, pheromones or something even stranger to communicate, this has to be taken into account when naming it.

15) Alien EXPS

What do aliens earn EXPS for? Aliens can earn EXPS for role-playing just like any other persona and they also have specific alien ways of earning EXPS. If an alien is a civilized tool user and has a persona class, then it will increase in levels according to that class’ experience point table. Aliens earn full experience for combat when fighting with their natural abilities. When using weapons, they only receive 25% EXPS. Aliens that are pursuing a persona class will earn experience points according to that class.

The benefits of alien experience levels are quite simple. Their natural combat abilities will improve, which is reflected in an increase in their natural combat table. Type A attacks will add PSTR each level increase; type B attacks will add PSTR each level increase; and type C attacks will add DEX per level increase. Thus an alien with a 10 DEX, 15 INT, and a 20 PSTR would add 10 to her type C attacks; 15 to her type B attacks, and 20 to her type A attacks. Remember that not all aliens have all natural attack types.

In a more cerebral vein, aliens can increase their likelihood of becoming tool users, becoming civilized, or adopting a class. Non-tool using aliens can add their EXPS level to their roll when trying to comprehend and employ tools. They can also re-roll their chance to become a tool user (adjusted INT) each time they increase an EXPS level. Tool using aliens can also add their EXPS level to their DEX roll when attempting to adapt to foreign tools. Each new experience level that a tool using alien achieves indicates another chance (adjusted INT) to become educated and pursue a persona class. If an alien suddenly becomes educated, she will begin her new class as a first level with 0 EXPS.

Table 6.26 Alien Experience

Amount of experience required to advance levels in alien abilities. This table is separate from any class experience levels.
Experience PointsExperience Level
Experience PointsExperience Level
0-20001
2001-40002
4001-80003
8001-180004
18001-350005
35001-700006
70001-1250007
125001-2500008
250001-5000009
500001-80000010
310000 point per level above 10th