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Pets in the 30th Century

This article was originally posted to the Terra/Sol Games blog at http://terrasolgames.com on September 28, 2011, and is reprinted here and in Freelance Traveller’s January 2012 issue with the author’s permission.

Fluffy has changed! So has Fido for that matter. In the 30th Century pets are what you make of them. Many aren’t even all biological anymore. A digital dog never grows old, never gets tired and doesn’t throw up on the rug. If that’s what you’re looking for then digital Fido is the answer for you. Combine a digital pet with an Agent or if you want to go all out an Intellect program then you can have a pet sensitive to your every whim—snuggling when you’re down, leaving you alone when you’re angry and playing when you’re bored. Your pet can even carry on a conversation with you with the correct programming. Replace the faux fur every few years and, voilą, Fido is immortal, something that can be handed down from one generation to the next and is probably a better repository of family lore than Grandpa.

Combining digital and biological nets you even more options. A BioCon dog outfitted with an intellect program can be hard to tell from an uplift. Implanting digital brains in biological organisms accounts for some of the extremely unusual pets seen in the 30th century—things like talking goldfish and snakes. Beyond that even we reach the realm of the truly bizarre: flying talking cats, a Chimera (with or without mechanically added fire breathing), a miniature dragon or an neon pink talking purse dog running an intellect program that probably makes it smarter than the person toting it around.

Besides the bizarre these unusual pets have actually taken on useful roles. The Cheshire cat might now be running an EdSoft program providing a useful learning tool for your toddler all the while entertaining them. The BioCon mastiff with augmented muscles running an intellect program makes for a more than adequate night watchman. Needless to say a DVM now has more to keep up with than a doctor and a second degree in computer science might be in order.

How does this affect my game? That is only limited by you and your players’ imaginations. Pets would now make very useful intelligence gathering assets. The Villain with the Neon Pink Purse Poodle becomes just that much more memorable, especially if the damn thing is hurling insults at the players.

The tools you need for creating unusual pets are all contained in the Traveller Core RuleBook (TCRB) mostly around page 92 where Software is discussed and the previous page which discusses non-ship computer hardware. The Encounters and Dangers chapter of the TCRB starting on page 69 also is a good source for inspiration on what an unusual ‘pet’ might look like.