Sunday, February 2, 2014

Savage Space II: the Syndirei Culture Vampires

Welcome to 28 days in Savage Space round II. This time around, an alien race of notorious space predators....but they don't steal your blood, they steal your culture.

Just a note: for these write-ups I am sticking to the Savage Worlds Deluxe Core plus Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion. I might delve into the Horror Companion on occasion as well...

The Syndirei Culture Vampires

Syndirei have a homeworld: it's yours. They have a language, too: yours. They love what you love, eat what you eat (and work out metabolic treatments for digesting local cuisine if necessary) and want what you want. All of it.

The original homeworld of the syndirei is lost to time. Their rapid adaptiveness to other cultures, languages and even ways of thought are regarded as eerily effective by xenogentic researchers, who have worked hard to amass data for the Federation records on this race, which has been working its way in along the edges of the galactic expanse for six centuries now. One belief is that the syndirei are actually a form of artificially engineered species designed specifically for such an effective level of cultural adaptability. Another theory, however, is that they are a weapon.

The syndirei don't just assimilate and take over your culture: they take ownership of it, and then they start to corrupt it from within. Some xenoanthropologists believe that the syndirei are actually the last survivors of a much older civilization toward the galactic core, and that they may have been singularly responsible for the destruction of said civilizations, based on an careful analysis of exctint cultures on the many worlds found toward the core.

The rationalization is this: syndirei are extremely friendly and adaptive, joining a new community in the most placating and friendly way possible, then worming their way in at the lowest levels of society, all while taking on tasks and duties that the native civilization could use cheap labor for. Then, in time, they grow, and expand into every niche above, slowly subsuming the greater percentage of population into their own by sheer numbers, but done in such a manner that only the most carefully engineered cultures will notice the shift over time. It takes generations, but one day the syndirei are in direct control and a majority holder in the local culture. That's when things get....interesting.

Syndirei when left to the own devising (such as the trapped population that was found after two centuries of isolation on Tarterus IV) seem to degenerate into a culture of violent might-makes-right fiends, preying on one another with rapacious intensity. The original researchers on Tarterus IV came to the conclusion that syndirei society on its own was naturally violent and destructive; they need a foreign population as a stabilizer, to help them maintain some sort of social contract; without that foreign society to attach to they degenerate rapidly into the most violent form of barbarism.

The problem arises in those cultures in which the syndirei have been enmeshed, and in which they have grown to become them majority population. There appears to be some sort of breaking point, at which the syndirei scales are tipped and the indigenous alien population is eclipsed so thoroughly that the syndirei now rule supremely. When this happens, social disorder begins to manifest, first in the form of random violence and criminal action, but over a matter of one or maybe two generations it spirals into madness, and the entire syndirei-controlled region collapes into chaos and violence. The xenoachaeologists studying the Coreward Expanse dead worlds think this has happened to multiple planets in the past, and they also suspect that the syndirei know about this problem, because certain prominent researchers have recently been found mysteriously dead after trying to go public with their research.

The current and most widespread advance on syndirei is in the region known as the Hexen Expanse. The cluster of worlds in this area are reaching what is believed to be a tipping point....and some may have gone past it, in terms of syndirei cultural absorption and population. Federation officials observe the region with great concern, wondering if the freeworlds in that area are about to suffer a terminal social collapse thanks to the cultural vampires...behind the scenes, agents of the Aegis Division have already conducted illegal tests on syndirei populations and know exactly what they are capable of.

Physically syndirei are humanoid with dusky gray and greenish skin, curiously weathered features and completely hairless. Syndirei have surprising genetic compatibility with humans and can eat human quisine without any treatments.

Syndirei Profile:

Adaptable - syndirei are very adaptable and may begin play with a free novice edge.

Linguist - Syndirei are able to pick up new languages with alarming accuracy, even languages not spoken in a conventional manner; they gain access to this background edge.

Dependency (culture) - syndirei psychology depends on other cultures. When a syndirei is by itself for a protracted period it (two weeks or more) it must make a Spirit check once per day. So long as it succeeds everything is fine; when it fails the first time the syndirei begins to develop psychotic and self-serving personality traits. When it fails a second time it begins to lose cognitive reasoning skills (-2 on all Smarts checks). When it fails a third time the syndirei stabilizes and regains its reasoning skills (loses the penalty) but now develops an inimical murderous personality akin to a serial killer.

Syndirei who have reached the third stage of their metamorphosis will behave accordingly until introduced to a new culture (not the previous culture; they have psychologically discarded that culture from their minds) at which time they can begin making a new Spirit test with a +2 modifier. One success means they immediately regain mental control and begin earnest efforts to learn the new culture.

The dependency also triggers when syndirei become the dominat population and cultural influence in a region; the exact trigger is not known, but it appears to be when a syndirei population exceeds 70% of the local indigenous aliens. GMs can inform syndirei PCs that they may be making the dependency checks when this threshold is passed locally as well. Large regional populations always trump local events, so a syndirei on an island with ten humans will still feel the degeneration begin to set in if the worldwide population has passed the threshold.

Typical Syndirei Special Forces Agent (Seasoned wild cards)

Syndirei special forces agents are part of a special group which engages in long-term therapy to improve their resistance to the species-wide capacity for murder in isolation. These agents are part of a group which works to keep their cultural time bomb a secret. Each agent wears a tight body suit under their armor that will initiate a destructive biofeedback explosion on death to disintegrate their remains. Failing that they also hold subdermal viral implants which will reduce their flesh to a pulpy, unidentifiable mass within seconds should they be caught and killed; it can be triggered with a mental command, as well. Despite their similarity to human physiology these implants only affect syndirei.

Agility D8, Smarts D8, Strength D6, Spirit D8, Vigor D4
Charisma 0, Pace 6", Parry 6, Toughness 12(4), Strain Cap 6, Current Strain 3
Drawbacks: dependency (culture), Vow (to species survival, major)
Edges: linguist, assassin, Adaptable (combat reflexes), Extraction, Marksman
Skills: Fighting D8, Investigation D8, Notice D8, Piloting D6, Shooting D8, Stealth D8
Weapons and Gear:
Disintegrator Pistol (3D10 damage, RoF 1, Shots 5)
2 EMP grenades, 1 smoke grenade, 1 thermal grenade
Hard Armor Suit (+8)
Vision Enhancement (+2 notice)
Melee Weapons - Arm blades, molecular (STR+D6+2 damage and 3 AP)
Viral Breakdown Protocol - bodymass destroyed in 1D6 combat rounds on death or by command (1 strain)

Syndirei armored special agent

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