The Swagfoxx: Fuzzy Nuisance of the Spaceways
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue.
A borrower of shiny objects, a bounding streak of dark fur, the swagfoxx is a treat as a companion, a bane for mechanics, starport maintaince workers and ship’s engineers, and an all-round mystery.
Little is known about the swagfoxx due to the infrequency of encounters with it. The scant existing data regarding this species is provided by xenobiologists travelling the spacelanes and interviewing swagfoxx companions on the rare occasions that one is encountered, and seen only in spacer bars and Scout service drinking establishments with their human companions, on board ship, and running loose around starports.
The name swagfoxx (the same for both singular and plural) was coined by spacefarers due to its penchant for appropriating objects as well as its foxlike appearance.
Swagfoxx are long and thin, smaller than a fennec, and stand 15-20 cm high, 60cm long (half the length is tail), and weighing 3 kg. Fur coloration is often white, grey, and black. Patterns widely differ between animals, however. It isn’t uncommon to have one animal displaying a grey coat dappled with white and black spots, and another to have banding or stripes. It is believed that the coloration helps with concealment. It is possible that they originate from a temperate climate zone (they are notorious shedders until they become adjusted to local climates).
The most striking feature of this species is the addition of two extra forelimbs. The front two sets of forelimbs have paws with opposable thumbs which allow the animal to grip and manipulate objects. It’s presumed that swagfoxx are arboreal due to their low center of gravity and number of limbs.
Swagfoxx are presumed to be nocturnal but are known to change their sleeping habits to match that of their human companion. They seem to prefer to den in crevices, nooks and crannies, weasel bags, and blankets.
Nothing is known of their group dynamics. There has been one known instance of a family group: a matriarchal female and a beta female (possibly an adult daughter), a male, and offspring. However, most swagfoxx that have been encountered and ‘studied’ seem to be solitary yet content to live alongside humans. Swagfoxx apparently jump from person to person at the animal’s whim. It is not a pet; rather, it is a companion.
Swagfoxx are naturally curious and excellent problem solvers. Some have reported that the animal has a near-primate mental acuity. They do not appear to be sapient, although that is debatable. They do use tools. A 3rd Cook on a Navy destroyer reported an instance of a swagfoxx using a cotter pin to remove a bolt that was too slippery to grip.
Shiny objects are attractive to them. From jewelry to the main drive sequencer’s locking spring, a Swagfoxx will find a way to acquire its object of interest. Their propensity for acquiring shiny things has been known to cause misjumps (they’ll remove objects from jump drives), and they’ve set off alarms in banks and jewelry stores. It is not known why the swagfoxx wants to acquire these things. They may carry around a well-loved item, and the rest is just padding for their sleeping area. Perhaps it is a behavior from the wild transferred to bright, shiny objects in the human world.
There has never been a reason discovered for why the swagfoxx has become a rare sight in human company. Theories abound. Some believe that they are another sentient species traveling with humans to learn about us, that they are a psionic species controlling individuals for nefarious means or that they are trying to spread themselves through human space as a way to preserve their species. The prevalent theory is that swagfoxx have simply discovered another interesting habitat to explore. Whatever the reason, the swagfoxx is another item that makes space travel interesting.
The swagfoxx isn’t just a pet for a player character or “color”, it is also a plot device. If you really need that misjump…let the animal do it. If the players aren’t setting off alarms like you want them to…let the animal do it. If they are hired to find a certain bauble… let the animal have it.
If players actually want a swagfoxx as a companion, make it a part of your adventure. Make the player have to look for one—that in itself will be a formidable task. I suggest also using an unmodified 11+ roll for the swagfoxx to actually want to be with the player’s character. Then let the wee beastie leave when it wants to go.
About the Author
Jeff Wheeler has 35+ years gaming experience in genres ranging from role-playing games to miniatures, and has been a contributor to Freelance Traveller. He is a veteran of 13 years combined military service in the United States Navy and Army. He is married and lives with his wife Toni, their four dogs and a cat in eastern Ohio.
About the Artist
Kate Lebherz-Gelinas is an artist and illustrator most notable for her work with Digest Group Publications during the MegaTraveller and Traveller: The New Era time period. She has contributed to KnightFall, Vilani and Vargr, and several Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society digest publications, as well as spot illustrator for the Terra Traveller Times. She offers commissioned work for individuals.