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Orthopteroids
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Alien species, here described at PL 7.

A Orthopteroid is a beetle-like arthropod with an average body length of 1.4m and weight of 80kg. The species has a compact body shape with a hard, shiny black shell covering ten limbs and a short, flat head. Six of the Orthopteroid's limbs act as legs, two as manipulating hands, and the front two as digging claws. A Orthopteroid also has four feeding palps around her mouth which she can use to hold small objects, much as a human might grip objects in his teeth.

The species has no eyes. Instead they scan their environment with ultrasound, using two stubby, swivelling sonobulbs on the head. Returning ultrasound waves are collected by fibrous hearing grooves along each leg. Orthopteroids also have the other senses common to humans, along with a sense that detects hard radiation, much like a human's thermal sense.

The Orthopteroids' name for themselves suggests "dwellers" or "survivors". Their homeworld, called 142 Reticulus by human astronomers, was the capital world of a once mighty stellar empire that destroyed itself by war millions of years ago. The first skaak-kta evolved in the underground train tunnels, apartment buildings, power plants and fortresses of the earlier species. The Orthopteroids call these ancient builders orik-t'ha, a term which has had strong religious significance in their history, and means "creators" or "establishers of the world". As they developed science and logic, and later explored many planets ruined by the orik-t'ha, the Orthopteroids lost their concept of their forebears as angelic and benevolent beings. They have become a hard-nosed, often cynical culture with little patience for the spiritual musings of other species.

Orthopteroids gather in nests, which while larger than the typical human family group, are less organised. The leaders of their society are the most experienced and perceptive individuals, whose advice is recognised as the most valuable.

Attribute Scores

STR 6-11 (see below)
DEX 4-12
CON 9-15
INT 4-14
WIL 6-15
PER 3-11

Broad Skills

STR Athletics
CON Stamina
INT Knowledge
INT Security
WIL Awareness
WIL Investigate

Abilities

Senses: A Orthopteroid's ultrasound scan detects solid objects within 30m, regardless of lighting conditions. Within 20m she determines the surface hardness of objects and has a -3 bonus to spot hidden objects and creatures. Within 5m, the Orthopteroid can scan the internal structures of relatively soft materials such as flesh and earth, and she detects hidden objects such as weapons without making a skill check.

She can resolve images of complex shapes less than 1mm in size, but cannot read a viewscreen at all, and must make a complex feat check against Intelligence to read printed text (two successes required per page, check once per phase). Braille readouts designed for blind humans are suitable. Orthopteroid technology uses slabs of piezoelectric-responsive plastic that change their internal hardness under electric current, displaying a layered or even three-dimensional image to Orthopteroid scans.

The ultrasound sense can be hampered by ultrasound emissions of Slight grade (+1 penalty to checks requiring sight), Moderate (+2 penalty) or Extreme grade (+3 penalty, and applies a +1 penalty to any other action while scanning). Audible sound creates ultrasound harmonics as if it were one grade lower (Good sound creates Slight harmonics and Amazing sound applies Moderate penalties). Sonic weapons fired within 30m also degrade ultrasound for the entire round, as Slight ultrasound (stutter pistol or SMG) or Moderate ultrasound (stutter cannon), or one grade worse if the Orthopteroid is struck. Ultrasound is also blocked by metal, stone and antiscan weave.


The Orthopteroid's radiation sense can identify the level of radiation in an area, providing its R rating (R0 to R5). She can give the general direction and distance of objects that are emitting hard radiation. An Ordinary source, such as a stream contaminated by fallout, can be sensed within 10m. A Good source, such as an exposed ingot of plutonium, can be sensed within 20m. An Amazing source, such as a star, nuclear explosion or galactic core, can be felt at line of sight.

Resistant body: A Orthopteroid has a -1 bonus to all Stamina - endurance checks to resist the effects of hostile environments, toxins or diseases, or a -2 bonus to resist radiation. Her tissues resist many forms of damage, reducing any Energy damage by d4-2 points of both primary and secondary damage. This is cumulative with armour.

Claws: The Orthopteroid can attack with her powerful digging claws, causing damage of d6s/d4+2w/d4+3w on a successful Unarmed Attack - brawl or power martial arts check. By using all of her actions for the round, she can grasp an unmoving object and crush or tear it with her claws, doing LI/G damage of d4w/d4+2w/d4m depending on a STR feat check. A pinned opponent counts as an unmoving object for this purpose.
Her legs and manipulative arms are much weaker than her digging claws, so a Orthopteroid will use the latter for feats of raw strength. For purposes of STR feats, claw attacks and qualifying for the Combat Spec profession, the Orthopteroid's strength is increased by 2. For other STR-based skills, and for calculating movement rate and throwing ability, her base STR is used.

Appearance and Personality: Due to her weird insectoid appearance, many other species are disturbed by a Orthopteroid's presence, or even struck with loathing. Orthopteroids have a +2 penalty to Interaction skills against humans, mechalus or fraal. T'sa recognise arthropods as food, so are unlikely to take the character seriously, giving a +1 penalty to Interaction. Weren and sesheyans have no particular aversion to Orthopteroids and the character suffers no Interaction penalty against these species.

A Orthopteroid may not have the Faith perk or Code of Honour flaw. Since Orthopteroid society puts little value on personal charisma, a Orthopteroid Diplomat may have a PER score of 10, but must have a WIL score of 11 or more. Orthopteroid Free Agents exist, but are not met with in human space, and may not be played as heroes.

Optional Rules

Orthopteroids of the Core often use cyber gear, though they have not yet developed fast chips, reflex circuitry or enhance programs. A Core Orthopteroid may begin play with one of the following pieces of special equipment depending on her profession: Combat Spec Ordinary BattleKlaw, or Ordinary weapon mount, or Ordinary body plating, or stealth unit, or displacer unit; Tech Op Ordinary cyberlimb or NIJack; Diplomat Ordinary CF skinweave or subdermal NIJack. Items that require a nanocomputer include an Ordinary model. 10 skill points must be paid to use cyber gear, and any item of better than Ordinary quality must be paid for in full.

Pioneer Orthopteroids, who venture into unsecured orik-t'ha worlds rife with ancient bioweapons and radiation, are often subject to mutation. A Pioneer can begin play with either an Ordinary mutant advantage, or a Good advantage and a Slight drawback. All mutations must be determined randomly.

Contactee Orthopteroids are those who have travelled in alien societies. A Contactee may become a Mindwalker. Any Contactee may elect to start play with an Ordinary nanocomputer and Ordinary cyberoptics. A total of 13 skill points must be paid for a Orthopteroid to master the use of cyberoptics, and any item of better than Ordinary quality must be paid for in full.

Cyber Gear

Subdermal Weapon Mount: Due to a Orthopteroid's body form, both a Good and Amazing weapon mount require an exoskeleton, but neither requires a cyberlimb.

New Skills

Unarmed Attack - combat ultrasound: Cannot be used untrained, cost 5 C.
This skaak-kta martial art allows the character to harm an opponent's body by concentrated blasts of ultrasound. A combat ultrasound attack causes LI/O damage of d4s/d4+2s/d4-1w and has a range of 6/12/20. At the end of a scene when the character used combat ultrasound, she must make a Fatigue check.