Three Shipborne Sightings of Animals
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue.
|Athletics (Dexterity) 2, Stealth 2, Recon 0, Survival 0
|Disease (see text if Easy task check failed. Check 1ŚWeek if svarb are present.)
|Alarm (odor), Diseased (Difficult, 2D, 1D weeks), Small (-3)
Svarb are an ever present plague on many ships, particularly as they age and hulls and other bulkheads become more worn. They are very small (body length 1cm + antenna length 1cm) insects with eight legs and a relatively soft carapace. Not harmful in themselves, they carry disease which can be spread through unprotected food they’ve touched or contact with their droppings. Roll 12+ every month for a ship to become infected (DM -1 for every 50 years since the ship was constructed; DM -1 for every orbital station or other ship the vessel has docked with during the month). It is a Formidable task to eradicate them entirely (DM +1 for treatment at an A class starport, DM+1 at a world of TL 14+), however failure with an Effect of at least -2 will reduce their numbers and the problem for 1D months giving a DM -1 on the Easy task check of their ‘attack’.
|Athletics (Dexterity) 3, Navigation 2, Recon 1, Survival 1, Tactics 1
|Alarm (Squeal), Flyer (High), Heightened Senses, Small (-1)
|* depending on wind strength and other atmospheric conditions
Many worlds with Dense atmospheres (8+) support a lifeform called variously streamers, pennants, or aereels. Usually around 2-3m long, although they may grow to 4m and on some atmosphere D worlds 10m specimens have been known. With roughly cylindrical bodies no more than a few centimetres in cross section they fly in air currents using thin membranes that run along the length of each side of their bodies. Astonishingly agile, they are able to twist and spin and can virtually tie themselves in knots; they never land, feeding, fighting and mating in the air. They eat small birds and insects as well as airborne plant matter. They are particularly attracted to cavorting in the wake of ships landing but pose no threat to such vessels and are usually considered to bring good fortune if sighted by a crew.
|Recon 2, Athletics (Dexterity) 1, Melee (bite) 1, Survival 0
|Bite and Claws (D3)
|Alarm (Growl), Fast Metabolism (+1), Heightened Senses
Smaller vessels may carry a ship’s cat, but on larger vessels there is room for even reasonably large dogs to live and exercise adequately. They are generally thoroughly domesticated and love being around humans but they can be trained as guard dogs for a particular territory or owner. They make unusually loyal pets; it should be noted that the supposed negative reactions from Vargr is not a reaction to the keeping of the dog as a pet—many Vargr consider humans keeping dogs as pets to be a minor joke, as there are Vargr that keep small, non-sophont simianoids as pets—but a reaction to the owner’s attitude toward Vargr directly. One would be well-advised to look up the ‘panet’ relationship in the Julian Protectorate before giving credence to assertions of general Vargr disapproval of dogs as pets.