This article originally appeared in Pyramid #16
Reticulate-The Kaa Revisited
by Michael Phyillaier, Jr.
Eugene stared in horror as the Kaa descended on his town. He was the Frontier Law; he had no way to deal with these Kaa slavers. A 10'-long Kaa slithered up to him and asked for the town's unconditional surrender.
"Over my dead body, you stupid snake!" Eugene flexed his wrist and fast-drew his HV Pistol.
Out of nowhere the Kaa's tail slapped his arm, and the pistol went flying. Eugene gasped, and tried to punch the Kaa. He had two years training in boxing - he was going to fight.
The Kaa moved his snake body with reptilian grace, avoiding Eugene's punches. Then the Kaa smiled and darted to Eugene's left side. Before he could move, the Kaa's tail had hit him in the knees. The force toppled him. Eugene rolled over and drew his knife. The Kaa smiled again. As Eugene lunged for the Kaa he found himself restrained by the Kaa's tail, wrapped tightly around his neck. The Kaa squeezed. Eugene saw stars and dropped the knife. Within seconds unconsciousness swirled up and Eugene was out. The Kaa whistled and several brethren approached. "You see, my brothers, how surprised they are when we enter direct combat with them. No more hiding in the shadows for our race. We are destined to be conquerors."
They cheered as they rounded up the last of the townfolk. The entire raid took less than five minutes and netted 120 slaves. The Kaa sang the praises of their new leader, Sahrk Warmaster. The frontier worlds were beginning to worry. The Kaa were getting bolder and better at all they did.
Several players have complained that the Kaa (GURPS Aliens, p. 64) were too weak, and that Cowardice didn't seem to be a good fit. So, in my campaign, the Kaa are reinventing themselves. They are no longer Cowards, and are trained in martial arts. If your campaign allows Trained by a Master, one in four of the new Kaa will be Trained by a Master in the Kaa Martial Art.
The Art form is called Reticulate (17/25). It emphasizes classic Judo movements that utilize the Kaa tail as a weapon. The Art relies on greater flexibility and encourages inflicting pain on the opponent. It also emphasizes subduing the opponent as quickly and quietly as possible.
Primary Skills: Hypnotism, Judo, Karate and Wrestling.
Secondary Skills: Physiology (Human) and Physiology (Kaa).
Optional Skills: Anthropology, Interrogation, Psychology and Xenobiology (Human).
Maneuvers: Aggressive Tail Parry, Arm Lock [2 points], Breakfall, Feint (Judo), Ground Fighting (Judo), Hit Location (Karate) [2 points], Hook Kick (Tail), Kicking (Tail), Neck Snare, Spin Kick (Tail), Sweeping Kick (Tail)
Cinematic Skills: Breaking Blow, Immovable Stance, Invisibility Art, Power Blow, Pressure Points, and Pressure Secrets. Cinematic Maneuvers: Binding and Sticking.
New ManeuversAggressive Tail Parry (P/H)
Defaults to (Karate/2)-4. Prerequisites: Karate, a tail and Extra Flexibility; cannot exceed Karate/2. This maneuver works in a manner identical to Aggressive Parry, except that it does normal kicking damage.
Neck Snare (P/H)
Defaults to Judo-4. Prerequisite Judo and a tail Striker This maneuver allows the attacker to grab a foe by the neck and apply a choke hold in one swift motion. Roll a Quick Contest between the attacker's Neck Snare maneuver and the defender's DX, Judo or Wrestling. If the attacker wins, his tail is wrapped around his victim's neck. Treat this as a Choke Hold.
The Art was originated by the Kaa WarMaster Sahrk (Status 8) nearly 30 years ago. He is waging a campaign to remake the Kaa into a race of conquerors. He despises Cowardice and will attempt to recruit any Kaa he sees acting bravely. He started a selective breeding program with the goal of breeding Kaa without Cowardice and with greater Strength and Intelligence. So far there are several hundred Kaa that have been improved this way and several hundred others who have overcome their Cowardice Disadvantage. A Reticulate-trained Kaa costs an extra 27 points above the racial base (75 in a cinematic campaign), including the loss of the Cowardice Disadvantage. This cost can be reduced by replacing Cowardice with Duty or Sense of Duty towards Sahrk and the new Kaa race.
Sahrk is using his new Kaa sparingly but with deadly effectiveness. Each Kaa under Sahrk must go through at least ten years of training to learn Reticulate. They are then turned into teachers for new Kaa students, starting a cycle of ever-improving Kaa Martial Artists. Sahrk has a hidden planet devoted to his new Kaa and uses several asteroid bases to raid frontier planets for slaves, supplies and as a proving ground for his troops. Sahrk has also developed a new weapon and armor system for the Kaa, to create fear in the hearts of their enemies. The weapon is based on the electrolaser. It has a stun and kill setting like the Electrolaser (UT p. 51) and has the following statistics:
Malf Dmg SS Acc 1/2D Max ROF WT Shots STR CL Cost TL ver 4+1(2) 13 16 450 1000 3- 7 50/D 8 0 2000 10
The weapon fires a modified X-ray laser beam saturated with mesons. It has excellent penetration when on the kill setting. When fired there is a faint green pulse, but the weapon makes no sound. Sahrk is working on a larger version, but doesn't have the research funds needed to complete the project.
Sahrk has modified bioplas armor to produce a slightly improved version for the Kaa warriors. The armor has six camouflage chameleon settings, or it can be set to be translucent. It covers the entire Kaa body except for the head and hands. The full suit weights 10 pounds and gives PD3 DR25, costing $8,000 at TL10. It functions like bioplas armor in all other aspects. A helmet and gloves can be added and the suit pressurized, if needed.
Most Kaa warriors leave the suit translucent to show off their ranks. Sahrk has created a tattoo ranking system and also rewards the best warriors with various jewelry that doubles as a status ranking system.
- The new Kaa could show up anywhere, and are becoming common raiders of the frontier worlds.
- Player Characters could form a new Kaa Special Ops team.
- The PCs could be hired to capture a trained master in Reticulate for Summersun Mercenaries.
- The group could be the victims of a Kaa raid. Taken by surprise, they are captured and must escape.
- They could be hired to steal the new Kaa weapon and armor for Goliath Weaponry.
- The PCs could be sent to find out where the Kaa's new world is located, perhaps for Byte.
- The adventurers might be another alien race that wants to learn Reticulate from the Kaa.
The idea is to introduce the new Kaa slowly and start an ongoing campaign based on the increasing threat posed by the Kaa lead by Sahrk. Sahrk should be unassailable and a figure of mystery. As the father of the new Kaa race, all new Kaa are willing to die to protect him. Have fun and remember . . . watch out for the tail.
Article publication date: December 1, 1995
Copyright © 1995 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to email@example.com.