Featured article #2

Mogwai (view original)

Nicknames: Techno-Monkeys, Gremlins, Scatterbrains, Munchkins
Homeworld: Momoa (The Arkhaian Chasm; Disputed)
Other Worlds: Stannis, Altair, Grist, Kronos

No race understands technology quite like the Mogwai. But where other races acquire their mastery through ancient crafting traditions, or the sciences of engineering, the Mogwai have psychic bond with technology that makes it come alive for them. They just know where the wires should go; they can hear the voice of the technology, which tells them its purpose, or where it is broken. And they can use this understanding to coax fantastic performance from technology, or create deep, personal bonds with the most implacable of robot.

The Mogwai resemble monkeys. They tend to be small; even fully stretched out, they come to a full head shorter than the average human, and most move in a hunched posture that makes them seem even smaller. They can combine their long arms and short legs to move on “all fours,” or they can use their prehensile feet as a second set of hands. Mostly hairless, they have grey, or bluish-grey, skin; males sometimes have a great tuft of fur on their chest, and females sometimes have a tuft of hair on their head. A membrane covers and shades their eyes; males tend to have a black membrane, and females tend to have a translucent, chromatic membrane. Their large, bat-like ears come to points, which gives their heads something of a triangular appearance. They have no nose, only slits where a nose would be and wide mouths with flat teeth; they have very large and friendly grins when they smile.

The Mogwai are exceptionally creative. They have a natural curiosity, which leads them to great innovation, and also to great trouble as they just cannot resist pushing buttons they really shouldn’t. This curiosity often comes with an inability to remain focused on a particular task; their conversations meander off topic, and they may entirely forget that they were in a conversation if something shiny passes by. While not smarter than the other races, their curiosity and playfulness gives them a great capacity for creativity, and they successfully explore ideas others discard as impractical.

The Mogwai are naturally psionic, but with a rare and unusual offshoot of Ergokinesis called “Machine Telepathy” or, sometimes, Techno-kinesis. They can “feel” machines and gain a sense of them, as though they were alive. Some hone this deeper, giving them superior diagnostic skills, intuitive engineering capabilities, or the ability to coax additional performance from their technology. This leads to their unusual habit of referring to technology as “alive.” To them, it is!

The Mogwai hail from somewhere in the Arkhaian Spiral. Like humanity, their first steps into the galaxy were likely via generation ship, and their true origins have now been lost to time. They never ruled a great space empire, nor did they suffer genocide at the hands of other races. Instead, they have remained free to explore the civilizations of the galaxy, and collect their own eclectic, mismash of cultural ideas, always with their love of technology at the center.

Mogwai obviously make excellent mechanics and technicians, but they also excel as scavengers. Those who dismiss their martial prowess due to their size come to regret it when they found themselves on the wrong end of the psychically-empowered blaster of a Mogwai Bounty Hunter or Commando. They tend to excel in any field where they can capitalize on their natural affinity for technology such as Fighter Aces.

Mogwai can come from any background. While technically a minority in the galaxy, their cultural adaptability and non-threatening nature tend to mean they integrate better with native populations and manage to avoid Social Stigma (Minority); those with the Outcast background tend to be involved in the criminal world. Most Mogwai, especially the colonists of Momoa or the workers on Stannis or Grist tend to have Humble Origins. Those from other cultures can justify nearly any background, from Aristocracy to Wanderer to Survivor; only Slave tends to be rare, as they have few enemies and few slavers roam the parts of space they tend to be most often found in.

Mogwai Racial Template

50 points

Attributes: ST -4 [-20]; DX +2 [40]

Secondary Traits: SM -1 [0]

Advantages: Acute Hearing +1 [2]; Brachiator [5]; Extra Arms 2 (Foot Manipulators -30%, Short -50%) [4]; Extra Legs (Four Legs; Temporary Disadvantage, No Fine Manipulators -30%) [4]; Machine Empathy (Machine Telepathy -10%) [9]; Machine Speech [5], Machine Telepathy Talent +1 [5]; Versatile [5]

Perks: Robust Vision [1]

Features: Robots always count as “people” to them (for the purposes of Pacifism, Chummy, etc) [0]

Disadvantages: Curious (12) [-5]; Short-Attention Span (15) [-5]

Mogwaian Traits

Mogwai are small; If using the Build Table, assume that a Mogwai is about a foot shorter and 2/3rds the weight that his ST would indicate.

Mogwai have a distinct appearance. Pitiable is very common, but not ubiquitous. They can be Unattractive or Ugly, but rarely Hideous or worse. They can be attractive, but most other races do not find them “sexy.” They can be Attractive (Impressive), or they can have Attractive, Beautiful or Very Beautiful, but with an “Only to other Mogwai” limitation worth -80%!

The Mogwai interact with robots and technology differently than everyone else. To them, technology is alive. Their Machine Empathy acts like the Empathy trait for Digital Minds: this grants them a +3 to detect lies, or to Computer Programming (AI) to profile them or guess their behavior, etc. It also allows them to use Influence skills on Indomitable robots (much to the consternation of Traders!). Those who get along especially well with robots might even have a version of Charisma that only works with robots!

The Mogwai extend this love of technology to their gear too. They often name their vehicles or their weapons or talk about their vehicles as though they were people, or even talk to their technology! Sometimes, this even works. Weapon Bonds, Equipment Bonds and Vehicular Bonds are very common among them.

The Mogwaian Machine Telepathy is a new psionic power and defined below; while not completely unique to the Mogwai, one rarely finds it among other races.

Mogwai adapt quickly to other cultures. They also grow up in huge families, and so tend to get lonely if left alone too long. They also tend to be really annoying. Common Odious Personal Habits include

  • Chatterbox
  • Constant Idea Factory
  • Toko smoking
  • Disorganized chaos
  • Doesn’t understand personal boundaries
  • “Echoing” (Imitating others)
  • Dismantle everything not currently in use.

Fast-Talk is a very common skill, as they use it in their games, their culture and their psychic powers. Even characters who wouldn’t normally have social skills often have it.

Common Advantages: Improve Acute Hearing to +2 to +4 [2/level], improve Robust Vision to Protected Vision [5] for 4 points, Appearance (Only to fellow Mogwaians -80%) [varies], Charisma 1-4 (Robots only -20%) [4/level], Cultural Adaptability [5], Flexibility [5], Perfect Balance [15], Pitiable [5], or any Machine Telepathy power or Machine Telepathy Talent [5/level].

Common Disadvantages: Chummy or Gregariousness [-5 to -10], Odious Personal Habit (various annoying habits) [-5], Xenophila [varies],

Common Quirks: Addiction (Toko), Bowlegged, Broad-Minded, Congenial, Disorganized, Imaginative, Inappropriate Manner (Oil), Mind-Numbing Magnetism (Playful), Poor Night Vision, Responsive, Robotophile, Sweet Tooth, Talks about technology like it’s alive.

Common Skills: Fast-Talk (IQ/A)

Mogwaian Culture

The Mogwai tend to be cultural chameleons. Easily distracted and fascinated by cultures of the Galaxy, they have readily adopted any concept they find interesting and drawn it into their own culture. As such, they contribute little to the galaxy’s cultural tapestry, and their own culture often comes across as an imitation of other, more prestigious cultures. Many Mogwai enclaves exist on various works, especially in the galactic core (such as Kronos) or in the Kybernian Constellation. These tend to be culturally assimilated, and have no real cultural differences from any other galactic denizen. However, when the Mogwai do establish their own culture, it tends to become very eccentric quickly. While wildly different to outsiders, most Mogwai are familiar enough with the psychology of their race to know the difference between cultural affectation and genuine cultural expression. Non-Mogwai confronted with a new Mogwaian culture might suffer a penalty of -2, similar to a familiarity penalty, until they get the feel of the new culture, typically no longer than a day.

Some examples of Mogwaian cultures include:

The Mogwaian Gadgetocracy

Perhaps the most civilized of the Mogwaian cultures, these borrowed heavily from the ideas of the Galactic Federation and their great houses, and melded them with the ideas of the Merchant princes of the Shinjurai. They tend to favor refinement and elegance, though given their appearance and disposition, this tends to come across more as pretention. They gain prestige through invention and trade. Those who with the greatest achievements become one of the Gizmo-Lords of the Gadgetocracy (sometimes called a “Boss”); there are individual family lines, the Houses of the Gadgetocracy, but their fortunes rise so quickly that few outsiders can keep track of who is who anymore; indeed, sometimes it seems as though everyone in the Gadgetocracy thinks himself a noble.

Characters from the Gadgetocracy tend to be of Humble Origins or Aristocratic. They can mostly be found in the Kybernian Constellation (they have a trading outpost on Stannis) and in their recent colony on Momoa.

Common Advantages: Fashion Sense [5]

Common Skills: Dancing (DX/A), Connoisseur (Alcohol, Toko, or Robots) (IQ/A), Current Affairs (Gadgetocracy) (IQ/E), Games (Una-Una) (IQ/E), Games (Holochess) (IQ/E), Merchant (IQ/A), Savoir-Faire (IQ/E)

Common Disadvantages: Code of Honor (A deal is a deal) [-5], Greedy [varies], Odious Personal Habit (Pretentious) [-5]

The Monocracy of Scourgebreaker

When “The Admiral” Raff Scourgebreaker agreed to apply his talents and the talents of his crew in assisting Leto Daijin and the galactic response to the Arkhaian Scourge, he demanded, and received, salvage rights on the fallen vessels as his payment. As a result of his tireless work, he walked away from the campaign with a small fleet of cruisers and a single Mythic-class Dreadnought, which he promptly used to terrorize the Arkhaian Chasm. In the twenty or so years since he established his territory, he and his extended group have gained control of numerous minor outposts and space stations, which he rules with an iron fist. Despite sharing similarities with the empire, and admiring them from affair, the Monocracy has chosen instead to forge a tentative treaty with the Cybernetic Union over the Empire.

Those who come from the Monocracy tend to be tough, self-reliant, and a bit mean. They often have the Wanderer background.

Common Advantages: Fearless [2/level], Hard to Kill [2/level]

Common Skills: Connoisseur (Blasters, Toko, robots), Games (Una-Una) (IQ/E), Games (Strategem) (IQ/E), Savoir-Faire (Military) (IQ/E), Soldier (IQ/A), Vacc Suit (DX/A)

Common Disadvantages: Bully [varies], Sense of Duty (Autocracy) [-10]

The Techno-Shamans of Momoa

In the past twenty years, the Mogwai have decided that a remote world, Momoa, is their long-lost homeworld and have begun to re-colonize the overgrown ruins of this jungle world. While there, they discovered tribes of Mogwai still living in the ruins, practicing a degenerated form of Neo-Rationalism, Techno-Shamanism. They seem to worship great, dead machines as gods, and have extensive stories about their exploits in the past. This manifests as surprisingly powerful Machine Telepathy training. While they originally had inferior technology, they rapidly adopted the technology of the colonists, and even stole a few starships and have been joyriding the galaxy on them ever since.

The Techno-Shamans typically have the Survivor Bacgrkound (technically, they would be Primitive, but they have adapted so quickly to technology as to make the disadvantages associated with primitivism irrelevant); those who study Techno-Shamanism might be Sequestered.

Common Skills: Games (Una-Una) (IQ/E), Theology (Techno-Shamanism), Religious Ritual (Techno-Shamanism)

Common Disadvantages: Delusion (All machines are alive and must be placated) [-5], Disicplines of Faith (Ritualism) [-5]

The Mogwaian Seeking and Retirement

The Mogwai have very large families; a female will typically give birth to twins or triplets and two to three sets of these are not unusual. And, having a comparable lifespan to humans, they remain children for quite some time, making family life quite a busy affair!

Once a Mogwai child has reached maturity (the exact value varies between 14 and 21, depending on the culture in which he grew up), by tradition they are sent on a “seeking.” This involves leaving the confines of their family and their culture to explore their world or, better, their galaxy. On this grand adventure, they seek their fortunes and to find amazing new ideas or technologies that they can bring home with them. Most “adventuring” Mogwai are on a Seeking. This can be quite dangerous: only about half of all Mogwai return (though in many cases, they Mogwai just choose to remain on some new world). Those who succeed “Retire.” They return to their homeworld with their newly acquired fortunes and ideas, and use them to woo a partner and begin a family. They may change their family name after the Seeking, based on their greatest achievement while on the Seeking.

Not all Mogwai follow this particular tradition; in particular, many choose not to “retire” and remain in a permanent state of “Seeking” as they may dread a “retirement” and the tedium of family life, or they simply find the rest of the galaxy too interesting to leave. But even so, most Mogwai understand the concept, at least.

Unique Mogwaian Game: Una-Una

Nobody in the galaxy plays Una-Una but the Mogwaians, who seem uniquely capable of understanding it. The game goes by many names, such as Scraps or Mogwai-Ball, but Una-Una is the most common name.
Una-Una has a deeply important cultural place for the Mogwai beyond just as a game. They also use it to establish social dominance or prestige; when a conflict cannot be resolve, Mogwai will often challenge one another to Una-Una. Una-Una is generally played one-on-one, but it can be played as a group.

There seem to be no set rules to Una-Una. The specifics vary from game to games, but most games involve moving a ball to a particular spot (or, in more aggressive games, throwing balls at one another) cannibalizing other games for some sort of combination of all games involved, and a great deal of arguing.

Una-Una can best be described as a contest of proposing rules. The participants will shout out rule proposals (“No, we’re not going to be using balls, we’re going to play by combining Tika with Alexian Trumps! Every time you capture a piece, we have to play a round of Trumps to see which piece wins!”) and then attempting to win “the game” with the new rules. Poorly conceived rules, or rules that aren’t particularly entertaining, tend to be shouted down or booed, and hamper the player’s ability to play. Ultimately, winning the game is about convincing the others of your victory, making it a fundamentally social experience.

Winning Una-Una requires succeeding in a Quick Contest of Games (Una-Una). The game rewards creativity, so characters with Versatile add +1 to their Games roll, while characters with Hidebound apply a -2. Characters can attempt to gain a complimentary bonus by “shouting out new rules.” Characters attempt a Reaction Roll to their proposals (adding in whatever reaction modifiers the GM feels appropriate the circumstances or players, but generally all normal modifiers will apply, as Mogwai will readily agree to the proposals of a pretty Mogwai or suggestions that everyone already likes); on a Good or Better reaction, the character who proposes the rule gains +1 to their Games roll, while on a Poor or worse, the others will turn against them, and they suffer a -1 to their Games roll. The GM can allow influence skills to replace the Reaction roll as a complementary roll; Fast-Talk is always appriopriate! The GM can allow multiple such suggestions if he wishes, but as a general rule, the players should gain or lose no more than +2 or -2 to their Games score (or +4 or -4 on a critical result).

Note that such suggestions typically involve bringing in other game elements (“No, let’s not play Tika, let’s play Strategem instead”); the rules above assume that the character uses these suggestions to their advantage. The GM can instead require a successful reaction roll or Fast-Talk roll to allow a different Games roll to act as a Complimentary roll; if so, the second games roll replaces the rules of using Reaction rolls or Influence rolls as Complimentary bonuses, but this version involves more rolling.

Given the outsized roll luck plays in such a chaotic contest, the GM should always all characters to apply their Luck to their Games roll, which does not count against their next Luck use. Lucky allows one additional reroll; Extreme Luck allows two, and Ridiculous Luck allows four.
Finally, it’s generally difficult to cheat at Una-Una, as the flexible nature means that players will tend to adapt the game legitimately rather than illegitimately, and will simply suggest legitimizing cheating (“This version of Alexian Trumps allows pocket trumps!”). Generally cheating involves Sleight-of-Hand rolls, which act as a complimentary bonus, only adding +1 or -1 to the Games roll.

Unique Mogwaian Intoxicants: Toko Sticks

Toko is a sort of leaf that grows on Momoa and any world heavily colonized by the Mogwai. Once harvested, the leaves can be dried (“Green toko”) or cured (“black toko”). Then the leave is rolled into a “cigar,” which can then be smoked.

Green toko acts as a very mild depressant and hallucinogenic; it generally inspires creativity and lethargy; GMs who wish a mechanic for this can require the smoker to roll HT or acquire the Dreamer quirk for the next 20 minutes.

Black toko is generally more popular, and acts as a very minor stimulant, though most who smoke it find it somewhat relaxing. If the GM wishes to provide a mechanical effect, it might grant them additional focus, equivalent to the Attentive quirk and a +1 to the control rating of their Short-Attention Span.

Toko is cheap, legal, only mildly stimulating, not particularly dangerous (though long-term use can create problems with the lungs). Addiction (Toko) is a quirk. Excessive smokers tend to stink up a place, which some see as an Odious Personal Habit.

Mogwai Names

Female Names: Anka, Bizzi, Emzetta, Evee, Klemmi, Lula, Meg, Trixi, Twula, Una

Male Names: Crank, Dale, Feeble, Fizmik, Flyx, Glum, Izzie, Keebold, Skeezer, Veebo, Weezer,

Family/Seeking Names: Bot-mender, Champ-winner, Deep-finder, Far-sniper, Long-Drifter, Mind-weaver, Seven-Stars, Silvercoat, Starfighter, Wyrmwerker

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