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This article originally appeared in the September/October 2020 issue.

Rudur were featured in “The Sons of Rudurgu” by Michael Brown, originally printed in the August 2013 issue of Freelance Traveller and reprinted in the September/October 2020 issue, and this entry in Less Dangerous Game is meant as a tribute to this excellent adventure. The stats given are Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition, while those in the original adventure were Classic Traveller.

Rudur 35 4m
SKILLS Athletics/Endurance-0; Athletics/Strength-2; Recon-0; Melee (tail bash)-1; Survival-1
ATTACKS Flee 8-; Attack 11+; Tail bash (2D), Claws (2D)
TRAITS Large (+1); Armor (+2)
BEHAVIOUR Omnivore/Gatherer
(Aggressive) Rudur 35 4m
SKILLS Athletics/Endurance-0; Athletics/Strength-2; Recon-0; Melee (tail bash)-1; Survival-1
ATTACKS Flee 1-; Attack 3+; Tail Bash (2D), Claws (2D)
TRAITS Large (+1); Armor (+2)
BEHAVIOUR Carnivore/Killer
Morphology Bilateral symmetry, tetrapod (four-limbed), quadruped (all four limbs used for locomotion)
Biochemistry C/H/O/N, roughly compatible with human
Respiration Oxygen-nitrogen inhalant, Carbon dioxide exhalant
Ecology Diurnal (active during the day)
Habitat Jungle, forested areas
Diet and Trophics Omnivore/gatherer (rudur) / Carnivore/killer (Gene-treated rudur), poikilothermic (varying body temperature at varying levels of efficiency; will get sluggish in cold environments)
Reproduction Two genders, mild sexual dimorphism, conjugal intercourse, viviparous birth (one calf), iteroparous (reproducing more than once in a lifetime). Young are cared for for about half a planetary year and nurtured from a mammary gland located in the female’s throat.
Lifecycle and ontogeny Two years to sexual maturity. Lifespan of about twenty-five years.

The mighty “sons of Rudurgu” are native animals of an Imperial resort planet and are held in religious awe by the local Wakkani tribesmen. About the size of a large bear and massive, weighing over 400 kilograms, covered in thick horny scales like a very large pangolin and armed with a powerful spiked tail, rudur have few natural enemies and are usually given a wide berth by other animals. They prefer moss, bark, and berry-like fruit, moving leisurely through the jungle, but will supplement their diet with water-dwelling animals and the occasional small grazer. Humans have little to fear from them unless they provoke the placid animals.

The large, muscular tail is the creature’s main defensive weapon. A bash with the spiked end will usually cause would-be attackers to reconsider. Prey is killed with the forelimbs’ long claws, which are also used to dig up roots and grubs. The egg-shaped body is well-protected by a thick hide and large overlapping scales, which offer good protection but offer a cozy home for several species of burrowing parasites. A certain species of bat-like omnivore, the tikkal, specialise in picking off those parasites with a long, hummingbird-like beak, and can often be found in groups flitting around a resting rudur.

Rudur are strictly solitary animals, only coming together to mate. At any other time of the year, encounters with other rudur result in bloody clashes, with the animals rearing up and striking with their claws until one of them flees and leaves the other’s territory. Other animals and humans are usually left alone.

Religious Taboos

The Wakkani tribesmen associate the rudur with their god-of-nature Rudurgu (and the tikkal-spirit is said to be the god’s advisor). Hunting rudur is strictly forbidden unless during the soul-journey that young male Wakkani undertake as a rite of passage. Travellers killing a rudur will face the tribesmen’s hostility unless the deed can be proven to a tribal council to have been in self-defense.

If a rudur does not flee and lets itself be approached by a tribesman, this is considered exceptionally good luck for the person; those so blessed often take off their amulets (which contain the spirits of the warrior’s ancestors) and try to place them on the rudur’s scales so the animal will carry those souls to the care of Rudurgu.

Aggressive Rudur

Recently, the resort administration attempted to stock a safari park with rudur for the entertainment of tourists. The rudurs’ aggression towards each other was supposed to have been reduced by a hormonal tranquilizer drug that was developed using the calming hormones generated during the mating season as a base. Unfortunately, the drug compound and the resultant hormone change were discovered to have severe side-effects on the animals, including heightened aggression towards humans, a berserk killing frenzy, and a procreational overdrive. To make matters worse, the hormone cocktail is transmitted to calves through the mothers’ milk, reiterating the hormone changes in the next batch of offspring. Currently there are several generations of aggressive rudur abroad in the resort area. The experiment was called off and hushed by the administration, but it is just a matter of time before a tourist is attacked by one of the aggressive specimens.

Aggressive rudur do not fight each other. They can be encountered in loose packs of 1D+1, and will nearly always attack on sight. Unlike most other animals (including normal rudur), aggressive rudur will not break off a fight if reduced to half their starting hits.