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Hivers for Cepheus Engine

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue.

The Hivers are one of the more enigmatic races of Traveller’s Charted Space, and (of the so-called ‘major races’) probably the least developed. This article is intended to help bring them “back into view” in advance of TravellerCON/USA 2021, whose theme will also be “Hivers”.

Sources

The material in this document is based on the Classic Traveller Alien Module 7: Hivers (referred to as AM7 henceforth). Access to this volume is strongly recommended for background information on Hivers, and this article assumes its availability. This document represents a conversion (with some adjustment) of the rules and other material in AM7 to the Cepheus Engine rules, and access to the Cepheus Engine System Reference Document (referred to as CE henceforth) should be assumed necessary. AM7 includes rules for converting the Classic Traveller Book 4: High Guard and Book 7: Merchant Prince for Hivers; these extended generation procedures are not converted to CE for this document.

Note that the unofficial Hiver module for RPGSuite’s Traveller Charager Generator, while available to the author, was specifically not consulted in the writing of this article, and thus represents a different and unrelated conversion from Classic to Mongoose Traveller.

Characteristics

Hivers do not have Social Standing as is standard among humans. Instead, the sixth characteristic is Curiosity, (abbreviated as CUR) whose use is described below. Curiosity does not map to Social Standing in any way, unlike the Charisma or Caste that other species might have. If it is necessary during play to assign a Social Standing to a Hiver character for interactions outside the Hiver sphere of influence, divide the Hiver character’s final career rank by 2 (round fractions down) and add 5.

Approximately half of all Hivers do not have a sense of smell. When generating Hiver characters, after generating the six basic characteristics, roll 1D; on 4+ the Hiver has a sense of smell, which should be recorded as a skill “Smell” with no level. See “Using Smell”, below.

Hivers have the following racial traits described in CE: Anti-psionic, Naturally Curious. They also have the following traits invented for this conversion (based on material in AM7):

Non-violent:
A member of a species with this trait will never initiate violence, and will avoid to the greatest extent possible personal combat even in response to violence. While characters of species that have this trait can gain skills in personal weapons (gun combat or melee combat), a DM –2 should be applied to all personal weapon or personal combat skill checks, and DM –1 to all personal-combat-related initiative checks. Both DMs are cumulative with any other task DMs.
Tactless:
A member of this species is incapable of comprehending the concepts of insult, personal offense, and similar. They will make factual statements in straightforward language (e.g., “Barbarians like you can always be depended on to act foolishly”) and be surprised at and uncomprehending of a negative reaction. Similarly, they expect others to be as direct with them, and will not understand why characters of other species might choose less direct wording.

Hivers have DM –2 on all tasks involving the use of equipment designed for non-Hivers; non-Hivers have DM –2 on all tasks involving the use of equipment designed for Hivers.

Hiver aging begins after two terms, not four. Aging rolls are against a target of 7+, however, not 8+.

Using Curiosity

Curiosity represents the likelihood that a Hiver character will be interested/intrigued by a situation, event, or proposal (referred to hereafter as an occurrence). This is determined by a curiosity check, which is rolled using 2D and comparing directly to the Hiver’s Curiosity characteristic (CUR). If the roll is lower than the Hiver’s CUR, the Hiver is interested in the occurrence. The degree of interest is calculated by subtracting the curiosity check roll from CUR, and dividing the result by 3 (rounding the result down). Apply this degree of interest as an additional negative DM on all Intelligence (INT) checks pertaining to this occurrence resulting from the Naturally Curious trait as described in CE (e.g., if the degree of interest is 3, apply a total DM of -3 to an Average (DM 0) INT check, or total DM of -5 to a Difficult (DM -2) INT check). Degrees of Interest from Curiosity Checks, where applied, are always cumulative with other DMs.

There is also a standard Characteristic Check against Curiosity. The two are notated slightly differently: a standard Characteristic Check against Curiosity will use the standard notation, e.g., CUR 8+; a Curiosity Check as defined above will be notated as CUR CK. Where spelled out, a “Curiosity Check” is always as defined above; a standard Characteristic Check against Curiosity will always be described using the word “Characteristic”, e.g. “Characteristic Check against Curiosity” or “Curiosity Characteristic Check”.

Using Smell

When there is an occurrence where there are or might be interesting odors (referee’s discretion), a Hiver with a sense of smell should apply a cumulative DM -1 to the CUR CK.

Topical Clubs

Most Hivers are members of one or more Topical Clubs on any subject of interest. Roll 1D2 for the number of Topical Clubs the Hiver character is a member of (round fractions up). For each Club the Hiver is a member of, the player should choose a subject of interest, and the referee should choose up to six skills or characteristics that might be developed through membership and activities in the Club. After the choice is made, the referee should use those skills and characteristics to create a six-entry table for each Club that the Hiver is a member of. These tables are to be used as described below in the Club career. Topical Clubs may also apply to post-character-generation play; where an occurrence involves the subject of any of a Hiver’s Topical Clubs, apply a cumulative DM -1 to the CUR CK.

Hiver Careers

In general, where these rules are silent, use the standard CE rules.

Hiver prior careers have some differences from the standard CE prior career process:

AM7 describes six careers for Hiver characters: Navy, Explorer, Merchant, Story-Teller, Leader, and Manipulator. These careers are the ones converted for this article. The following standard CE careers not detailed below are also available to Hivers, and should be handled normally, except that where the standard CE rules require a SOC check or award a change in SOC, use INT instead: Belter, Bureaucrat, Colonist, Physician, Scientist, Technician. Other standard CE careers should be considered unavailable to Hivers. A Hiver may attempt to qualify for up to three careers at the beginning of character generation; if all three fail, the character is automatically enrolled in the Club career described below (do not roll for the Draft). The Club career is also allowed as an initial career decision.

A Hiver that achieves Manipulator status may use the title “Manipulator”; one who achieves Rank 2 in the Physician career may use the title “Doctor”.

Satisfaction

A Hiver will only remain in a career while it is satisfied. Each term, if the Satisfaction roll is made, the character will gain +1 Satisfaction (record this as though a skill). At the end of the term, if the character’s Satisfaction is less than one half of the number of terms served (round fractions down), the character will not continue in the career, and should not roll to Continue (change careers instead). Once a Hiver character begins play, Satisfaction is irrelevant and ignored.

Manipulate Skill

A Hiver with this skill is able to alter the behaviors and/or opinions of groups of sophonts. The alteration is caused by providing a small stimulus under specific, desired conditions; the group’s “natural” response to the stimulus will lead to the desired result. A Manipulate skill check uses INT as the key characteristic.

Manipulator Status

Regardless of whether a Hiver character actually has Manipulate skill, there is always an interest in trying to Manipulate others, and sometimes the Hiver succeeds. A Hiver that succeeds in a Manipulation is awarded Manipulator status. This is simulated by a roll during prior career resolution; a Hiver character may roll for Manipulator status in any term when the character has Satisfaction 5+. Once achieved, no further rolls for Manipulator status should be made. A Hiver that achieves Manipulator status without having Manipulate skill should be awarded one level of that skill.

Instruction Skill

Instruction Skill is a special skill available to Story-Tellers. The character with this skill is capable of creating new stories that present information and also encourage the listener to attempt to find out more about the subject. (This is similar to the standard Instruction skill from Classic Traveller Book 4: Mercenary, but oriented specifically to Hiver modes of instruction and learning.) A Hiver with this skill can teach other Hivers any skill that the teaching Hiver has, to a maximum of one level lower than the lower of Instruction skill or the skill being taught. The character being taught will learn the skill one week faster than the standard CE rules.

Linguistics Skill

Since Hivers are physiologically incapable of speech, Linguistics skill among Hivers actually refers to the Hiver’s ability to use (computerized) translation devices such as voders and pictors, to translate between Hiver and non-Hiver modes of communication. This does not extend to general computer use or programming.

“Topical Club” as a Skill

Where “Topical Club” appears in the career skill tables, the character should re-roll the skill roll, using one of the tables other than Personal Development from the “Club” career, as created by the referee per the “Topical Clubs” section above.

“Scientist” as a Skill

Where “Scientist” appears in the career skill tables, the character should re-roll the skill roll, using one of the skill tables other than Personal Development from the standard CE “Scientist” career.

Hiver Background Skills

Use the standard CE Background Skills rules for selecting background skills for Hiver characters, but consider all combat or weapon skills to be unavailable.

Hiver Skill Eligibility

During career resolution, a Hiver character automatically gets one skill roll in each term. Additional skill rolls may be awarded for each of the following:

Satisfaction:
One additional skill roll in any term where the character succeeds at the Satisfaction roll.
Advancement:
One additional skill roll in any term where the character succeeds at the Advancement roll.
Manipulator Status:
One additional skill roll in the term where the character succeeds at the Manipulator roll, and one additional skill roll in each subsequent term for the remainder of character generation.

Mustering Out

Mustering Out should be handled as per the normal CE rules. Characters may take no more than three rolls on the Cash table. Note that for Hivers, Gambling skill does not grant DM +1 on Cash rolls.

The Hiver “Ship” benefit in Mustering Out represents outright purchase of the ship type indicated in the notes, and assigning its use to the character. It may only be received once.

The “Weapon” benefit represents having a personal weapon, as per the standard CE choices, but specifically designed for Hiver physiology. If the Hiver character has both Gun Combat and Melee Combat skill, this benefit may be received twice (one of each type weapon), otherwise, it may only be received once. Further rolls do not confer skill nor additional weapons.

Where a Hiver character receives a benefit that may only be granted a limited number of times, it is the referee’s option whether to permit rerolls of subsequent receipts, to assign a particular alternate benefit, or to consider the roll “lost”.

The Careers

The six converted careers are presented below. Except as outlined above, the same process is followed as for standard CE careers.

Any notes pertinent to a specific career will be found following the career’s tables.

The Navy Career

Career Progression
Qualification END 5+ or STR 6+
Survival INT 5+
Satisfaction CUR 10+
Advancement INT 10+
Manipulator INT 10+
Continue 4+
Rank Skills
0 Zero-G 1
1  
2  
3 Leadership 1
4  
5  
6  
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 STR 1,000
2 +1 INT 5,000
3 Weapon 10,000
4 Mid Passage 10,000
5 Mid Passage 10,000
6 +1 CUR 20,000

Skills

1D

Personal Development

Service Skills

Specialist Skills

Advanced Education

1

+1 STR

Piloting

Piloting

Medicine

2

+1 DEX

Zero-G

Navigation

Computer

3

+1 END

Mechanics

Engineering

Steward

4

+1 INT

Electronics

Piloting

Jack-o-Trades

5

+1 EDU

Gravitics

Computer

Tactics

6

Melee Combat or Gun Combat

Computer

Gunnery

Admin

The Navy is responsible for protecting the frontiers and trade lanes. They also enforce quarantine around worlds that are considered too dangerous to allow open travel to. Unlike among other interstellar polities, there is no need for the Navy in a Hiver polity to “show the flag”; the nearest equivalent to this among Hivers is served by Embassies.

The Explorer Career

Career Progression
Qualification STR 7+ or CUR 9+
Survival CUR 6+
Satisfaction INT 8+
Advancement END 8+
Manipulator INT 11+
Continue 5+
Rank Skills
0 +1 CUR
1  
2  
3 Gun or Melee Cbt 1
4  
5  
6  
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 EDU 1,000
2 +2 EDU 1,000
3 Weapon 5,000
4 Mid Passage 30,000
5 Mid Passage 40,000
6 Ship 50,000
Skills
1D Personal Development Service Skills Specialist Skills Advanced Education
1 +1 STR Vehicle Piloting Medicine
2 +1 DEX Zero-G Linguistics +1 EDU
3 +1 END Mechanics Engineering +1 INT
4 Carousing Electronics Vehicle +1 CUR
5 Gambling Gravitics Topical Club or Scientist Jack-o-Trades
6 Bribery Computer Gun Combat or Melee Combat Topical Club or Scientist

Hiver Explorers serve the same role as Scouts in the standard CE rules, but also include any role where the quest for knowledge is central—this includes such roles as inventor and scientist.

The “Ship” benefit may only be received once, and represents the character’s nest purchasing a 200-ton J3/3G Type HX Hiver Explorer, and assigning the character to it.

The Merchant Career

Career Progression
Qualification INT 5+ or EDU 6+
Survival EDU 4+
Satisfaction INT 7+
Advancement EDU 9+
Manipulator INT 10+
Continue 4+
Rank Skills
0 Broker 1
1  
2  
3 Piloting 1
4  
5  
6  
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 EDU 1,000
2 +1 EDU 5,000
3 Weapon 10,000
4 Mid Passage 20,000
5 Mid Passage 40,000
6 Ship 60,000
Skills
1D Personal Development Service Skills Specialist Skills Advanced Education
1 +1 STR Vehicle Broker Medicine
2 +1 DEX Zero-G Topical Club Topical Club
3 +1 END Streetwise Piloting Broker
4 Carousing Broker Engineer Computer
5 +1 EDU Comms Computer +1 EDU
6 Bribery Gun Combat Admin Admin

The “Ship” benefit received from mustering out is a Type HR Hiver Trader, a 400-ton J2/1G merchant ship. This benefit may only be received once, and represents outright purchase of the ship by the Hiver character’s nest, with the Hiver being assigned to it.

The Story-Teller Career

Career Progression
Qualification INT 5+ or CUR 6+
Survival INT 3+
Satisfaction CUR 8+
Advancement CUR 8+
Manipulator EDU 9+
Continue 5+
Rank Skills
0 +1 EDU
1  
2 Social Sciences 1
3  
4 Instruction 1
5  
6  
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 INT 5,000
2 +2 INT 10,000
3 Weapon 10,000
4 High Passage 10,000
5 High Passage 20,000
6 +1 CUR 20,000
Skills
1D Personal Development Service Skills Specialist Skills Advanced Education
1 +1 STR Vehicle +1 CUR Medicine
2 +1 DEX Carousing Zero-G Carousing
3 +1 END Electronics Liaison Linguistics
4 Carousing Social Sciences Linguistics Liaison
5 +1 EDU Linguistics Gun Combat or Melee Combat +1 INT
6 +1 CUR Manipulate Admin Admin

The Story-Teller serves a complex role in Hiver society, combining the roles of Entertainer and Teacher. Skilled and experienced Story-Tellers also may be assigned to Embassies or as assistants to specific Leaders or Manipulators to assist with the process of bringing non-Hivers to a better understanding of Hiver society and thought processes.

The Leader Career

Career Progression
Qualification Any 6+
Survival EDU 4+
Satisfaction INT 9+
Advancement INT 7+
Manipulator INT 9+
Continue 6+
Rank Skills
0 Leadership 1
1  
2  
3  
4 Admin 1
5  
6  
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 INT 5,000
2 +1 INT 5,000
3 Weapon 10,000
4 High Passage 20,000
5 High Passage 20,000
6 Ship 20,000
Skills
1D Personal Development Service Skills Specialist Skills Advanced Education
1 +1 STR Vehicle Leader Medicine
2 +1 DEX Leader Computer Leader
3 +1 END Tactics Liaison Admin
4 +1 INT Computer Manipulate Leader
5 Gun Combat or Melee Combat Instruction Gun Combat or Melee Combat Manipulate
6 Leader Manipulate Admin Topical Club

Leaders are those who are trained to lead, and may be in essentially any leadership role—whether military, administration, commerce, research teams, et cetera. Most leaders will have some Manipulate skill, and it is recommended that the Leader career not be the character’s only career (other than Manipulator or Club).

The “Ship” benefit may only be received once, and represents the character’s nest purchasing a 200-ton J3/3G Type HX Hiver Explorer, and assigning the character to it.

The Manipulator Career

Career Progression
Qualification Auto
Survival INT 5+
Satisfaction INT 6+
Advancement None
Manipulator Not Available
Continue 5+
Rank Skills
0 Manipulation 1
1  
2  
3  
4  
5  
6  
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 INT 10,000
2 +1 INT 10,000
3 Weapon 10,000
4 Mid Passage 50,000
5 High Passage 50,000
6 Ship 50,000
Skills
1D Personal Development Service Skills Specialist Skills Advanced Education
1 +1 STR Vehicle Tactics Medicine
2 +1 DEX Forgery Computer Manipulate
3 Manipulate Bribery Vehicle Admin
4 +1 INT Streetwise Manipulate Liaison
5 +1 EDU Piloting Gun Combat or Melee Combat Manipulate
6 +1 CUR Manipulate Jack-o-Trades Leader

Any Hiver that has Manipulator status awarded while in any other career may choose to resolve any subsequent career term using these Manipulator career tables instead of the standard tables for that career. A character with Manipulator status that leaves a career due to low Satisfaction or a mishap may choose to enter the Manipulator career “full time” (qualification is automatic) or try to qualify for another career or enter the Club career (see below). A character who enters a second or subsequent career after earning Manipulator status continues to have the option of resolving career terms using these tables. Characters who choose to become “full time” Manipulators roll twice for skills each term. Also, a character that has Manipulator status may choose on each mustering-out benefit roll whether to take the benefit from the Manipulator career mustering-out table or from the career the character is actually leaving. The Manipulator career does not have rank; instead, the level of Manipulate skill serves as a proxy for the Hiver’s standing and respect as a Manipulator.

The “Ship” benefit may only be received once, and represents the character’s nest purchasing a 200-ton J3/3G Type HX Hiver Explorer, and assigning the character to it.

The Club Career

Career Progression
Qualification Auto
Survival INT 5+ or CUR 4+
Satisfaction INT 6+ or CUR 6+
Advancement None
Manipulator INT 11+
Continue Auto
Rank Skills
The Club career has no ranks. At the referee’s discretion, the character may be awarded Streetwise 1 the first time this career is entered.
Mustering Out
1D Material Benefit Cash
1 +1 INT 1,000
2 +1 EDU 1,000
3 Weapon 5,000
4 Mid Passage 5,000
5 Mid Passage 10,000
6 +1 CUR 20,000
Skills
1D Personal Development Club Skills 1 Club Skills 2 Club Skills 3
1 +1 STR These skill tables are defined by the referee and are specific to each character; see the section on “Topical Clubs” above. (If the character is directed here from “Topical Club” as a skill in another career, only one roll is made).
2 +1 DEX
3 +1 END
4 +1 INT
5 +1 EDU
6 +1 CUR

The Club career replaces the standard CE Drifter career for Hiver characters. If a Hiver character fails all three initial attempts at initial career qualification, or fails the attempt at qualification when changing careers (either because of failure of satisfaction, or due to a mishap), the character is automatically enrolled in the Club career. A character who leaves another career due to low Satisfaction or mishap may also choose to enter the Club career (qualification is automatic) without trying to qualify for a different career. The Club career does not have advancement, ranks, or rank skills; each term, the character rolls twice for skills.

If the character fails the Satisfaction roll in two consecutive terms in this career, or if the character’s Satisfaction level is too low to allow continuation, the referee may allow the player to choose a new Topical Club topic; if this brings the character to four Topical Clubs, the player must choose one to leave. Once the new Topical Club is chosen, the referee should create a skill table for the Club subject as outlined above.