by Loki Carbis
Art by Dan Smith and colored by Phil Reed
GURPS Black Ops presents a history in which two alien races, the Prima and the Greys, have had huge impacts on our history. But maybe there's more going on here than meets the "human" eye. Why not broaden the horizons of the campaign? There's no reason not to include the full panoply of races from GURPS Aliens in a GURPS Black Ops game - and it will certainly surprise the players.
The basic setting is very similar to what is given out in the GURPS Black Ops book - except that the true reasons behind things are quite different. The Greys are not what they appear to be at all - the deals that have been made with them were in fact made with the Markann. And there's really no such thing as "the Prima" - what Argus has classified as the work of the Prima is actually the work of several alien races, notably the Irari, the Engai, the Jaril, the Auroras, the Traders and the Gerodians.
In fact, nearly every one of the races GURPS Aliens has come to Earth at one time or another - and many of them are still here, pursuing their inhuman goals. To better reflect the nature of such a campaign, minor changes to the game statistics and cultures of most of the alien races have been made, making them considerably more malign. Details on the changes to each race are given under their descriptions. GM's concerned about the differences can simply put this down to the differences in campaign tone and feel between GURPS Aliens and GURPS Black Ops - a Black Ops game requires much more malign alien races, with devious and inscrutable goals. Alternately, maybe the races are always like this when dealing with non-starfaring inferiors. No details are given for the Gloworms, Riders or Xenomorphs, since each of these races can be used as is. In any case, this is what they're up to on Earth.
The An Phar are here only the broadest sense of the term. What we think of as Greys are in fact dead An Phar, brought back to a semblance of life through advanced psybernetic technology, and remotely piloted by the Markann. Occasionally, when the psybernetic restraints fail, one of them is lost to the Markann. Dimly aware of its condition, and in constant pain, these An Phar frequently enter destructive rampages until brought down by either the Markann or Argus. Use Grey statistics from GURPS Black Ops adding Berserk (limitation: only when uncontrolled).
Auroras and Traders
These two most powerful and enigmatic of races have both visited Earth many times in the past. Many accounts of meetings with gods are likely distorted versions of these encounters. But where the Auroras have avoided Earth in recent centuries, preferring not to be bothered by the struggles of lesser races, the Traders have found a renewed interest, and have been happily making deals with anyone and everyone. It's only a matter of time before a Trader sells a human information or objects that could expose or even damage the other alien races on Earth. It's even possible that one or more already have (certainly, at the highest levels, Argus is aware of the Traders and longs to learn more of them). Neither race needs any real changes, except that they are both somewhat more amoral.
Although the Banduch are few, and are compelled to remain in hiding in lost worlds and dense jungles and swamps, they are a potent menace. They came to Earth literally millions of years ago, and made it their own. Their great intelligence and mighty psionics allowed them to survive the extinction of the dinosaurs that they had ruled, and to hide from humanity as it grew and developed. From behind the scenes, they deliberately retarded the development of humans, preventing technological and social progress. The arrival of the Kaa on Earth, tens of thousands of years ago, discomfited them - because the Kaa knew what they were, and set out to exterminate them. Ever since then, the Banduch have been fighting a defensive war against the Kaa, although the arrival of other species allowed them something of a break. A great conference of all Banduch was held, and it was decided to reclaim the planet for the Banduch alone. These days, Banduch minds manipulate the environmental and anti-technology lobbies, trying to bring about an end to industrialization. They also covertly leak information regarding the activities of other alien races to Argus. Banduch are similar to those presented in GURPS Aliens, but do not possess the Advantage of Empathy, or the Disadvantages of Truthfulness or Non-Violence. They do however possess the Disadvantage of Greedy (which applies mostly to food, mates and territory in Banduch culture).
No one knows what the Cidi want - but they are here. They hide among terrestrial animals such as squirrels and possums. For the most part, they seem to wish to be left alone, although they sometimes participate in suicide attacks on electrical installations of all sorts. In actuality, the Cidi are engaged in very careful study of humanity, preparatory to eventual invasion. They are methodical and very, very cautious, and are quite happy to let Argus take out any competition before they themselves take out humanity. Cidi are physically the same as in GURPS Aliens, but add the Mental Disadvantages Careful and Reclusive.
As a planet-bound race, the Crystal Computers are not found on Earth. Which is a lucky break for humanity.
As amoral and jaded sophisticates, the Engai are always interested in newly discovered alien cultures like Earth. At any given time, several of them are on the planet seeking distraction. They rarely act in concert, and never initiate contact with any other alien race. If another alien race should interfere with the activities of an Engai, it is equally likely that the Engai will punish them for their temerity or simply depart, claiming to have been "getting bored with this game anyway". Many Engai suffer from the Disadvantage Solipsist.
The Fasanni presence on Earth is limited to impartial observers working with other alien races. They don't much care about the fate of humanity, other than in a dry, intellectual fashion. Fasanni are basically uninterested in all other alien races as individuals, but fascinated by alien cultures. This is well known to the various other races who allow them to tag along, but each one hopes that one day the Fasanni will decide to join with them. Unfortunately for the Fasanni, they have so far be unable to deal with humans directly, instead getting all their information second hand. If ever a reliable means of impersonating humans is developed by the Fasanni, the other races may be in for a shock - humans and Fasanni have much in common, and the historical struggle of humans to solve problems without violence would be much-admired by Fasanni. Fasanni are unchanged, although less sympathetic to others.
The Gerodians, along with the Jaril, are largely responsible for Earth legends of Titans, giants and ogres. Both races have visited Earth in the past and may well do so again in the future. Gerodians on Earth are vicious scientists and doctors to primitive cultures, who always prophesy alien invasion and treat humans in a way that supposedly prepares them for this eventuality. In this setting, the Gerodian Code of Honour and Sense of Duty are modified by the addition of Sadism - although they honestly believe that what they do to other races is "for their own good" the simple fact is that this is merely a rationalization.
Many centuries ago, another race (which one is not known) brought several small colonies of Gormelites to Earth, to serve as slaves in their facilities. Although the facilities are long gone, many of the Gormelites survived, and have lived in the wild for centuries. They are variously known as Yeti, Sasquatch and so on. Their few villages are very well hidden, and Gormelite technology is at approximately Stone Age levels (TL3). Add Stealth-IQ, Survival (Wilderness)-IQ and Tracking-IQ to their suite of racial skills, but add also 4 levels of Primitive.
The Irari ruthlessness and devotion to knowledge has brought them to Earth many times. Seeing the human race as little more than animals, the Irari have conducted many bizarre experiments on us. They are particularly fascinated by the human capacity for religious belief, which they do not share. It is probable that many legends regarding angels and other winged divine figures are in fact memories of Irari experiments. Certainly the Aztec deity known as Queztlcoatl was an Irari - and it is possible that the myth of Daedulus and Icarus contains some hints as to how to defeat them. An insoluble labyrinth would definitely pose an irresistible challenge to an Irari. Add Insatiably Curious and Callous.
GURPS Aliens details a huge scheme to move the Jaril to a more favourable planet on behalf of un-named alien races. That planet is the Earth. The Jaril were settled here 10,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. Like the Gerodians, they appear often in Earth legends as giants, titans or ogres. They are mostly a subterranean race, and have added to the natural tunnels of this planet considerably. Jaril craft have been specially modified to fly these long tunnels, occasionally emerging from extinct volcanoes, cave mouths or the sea. Most reports of "flying saucers" will be Jaril craft - the race is obsessed with finding out what the other races are up to. They still consider the humans to be primitive savages, which may lead to a rude awakening for them in the near future. The Jaril are basically unchanged in this setting, although they are a lot less worried about offending other races - subtract their Sense of Duty.
The Kaa have been here for longer than any other race (GM's interested in a very weird Black Ops game could make them identical to the Serpent Men of GURPS Conan and GURPS Cthulhupunk). Tales of snake or lizard men are sufficiently widespread that they could pop up anywhere. Wherever they are, they are mortal enemies of the Banduch - the two reptiles have each consider the Earth to be rightfully theirs and the other to be interlopers. The Kaa, as one of the most evil races in GURPS Aliens, are unchanged in this setting.
The Kronin can pass for human with cosmetics and disguises - and some of them do, in pursuit of their goal. Decades ago, a Kronin ship was infested by Verms and crashed somewhere on Earth. It is buried deeply in the ground, but the Kronin are sure that the Verms survived and will one day attack Earth in force. Due to the circumstances of the Verms' arrival, the Kronin feel obligated to find and destroy the Verms before they destroy humanity. Unfortunately, the Kronin are only concerned with humanity as a whole - individual humans who get in the way of the mission are dealt with in a swift and deadly fashion. Kronin are played with no changes - but note that most of them will skills like Disguise and Acting in order to better pass among humans.
The Liook Sujaan are among the few totally benevolent alien races. Millennia ago, their minds detected the incredible psionic potential of humanity, and the race has taken an active interest in seeing humanity reach its potential ever since. They have often influenced the minds of humans, and many sacred sites and standing stones are actually members of this race. Generally, the Liook try to influence humanity to look to the stars, since they wish to have allies out there. This is the major reason why Stonehenge and other such sites are considered "ancient observatories." (See GURPS Places of Mystery for more information on Stonehenge and standing stones in general.) Liook Sujaan are played with no serious differences, other than the fact that most of the ones on Earth have the Auto-Teleport power in addition to whatever other psionics they possess.
The Markann's inferiority complex is even more pronounced in this world - they will not even show themselves. The Greys are in fact remotely piloted drones - created from psybernetically modified and controlled An Phar corpses - each of them doing the work of one or more Markann. Some few abducted humans have seen Markann - but most see only their cyborg servants. (This would be a perfect time to dust off the old Flight 19 adventure - the players could easily be led to believe that the Markann are a separate race unconnected to the Greys, or possibly even feuding with them.) Markann are as presented in GURPS Aliens.
Memer and Saret
Memer and Saret are not found on Earth. Quite simply, there's nothing here that they want.
Mmm is unaware of the existence of Earth. Were Mmm to become aware of this planet, and the activities of various races on it, it would seek further information, most likely planting a node or two somewhere out of the way, and using a few very discreet drones. Once it had done sufficient research, it is likely the Mmm would be sufficiently revolted to attempt to destroy all other sentient life in known space, rather than risk having it run against Mmm itself.
Quite simply, the Pachekki are here for an outright invasion. They require no better justification than the distribution of land and sea on this planet. But the Pachekki are not fools either - their invasion plans called for the seas to be conquered first. Unfortunately for them, others had the same idea first. Pachekki are much the same, with the exceptions that females now possess Berserk and males now possess Sadism - these in addition to their normal racial suite.
The Purulu want the Earth - but only because everyone else seems to, and thus, it must have some value. So they've been trying to take over the oceans of the Earth with the assistance of their unwilling allies, the Tamile.
Perhaps the most unlikely allies that humanity has are the Sparrials. They followed the other races to Earth simply out of curiosity, and the vast majority of those who came got bored and left fairly quickly. But those who stayed are a constant irritant to the other races. The Sparrials have bent their thieving talents to the task of frustrating everyone involved with the alien activities on Earth (which in their view includes all humans). Sparrials care nothing for security and secrecy, and it is possible that the legends of gremlins and other such creatures that have arisen in the last century are based on encounters with Sparrials. (Certainly the theft of small, expensive and vital parts of complex machines is very much in keeping with Sparrial culture.) Sparrials can be used as is.
The Tamile are much the same as is GURPS Aliens, saving only that they are an aquatic species - and that they are owned as a race by the Purulu. The Tamile were bioengineered to be the best artists in the galaxy to satisfy Purulu cravings. But when the Purulu learned about Earth, they could not find any other mercenaries who would work for them. So the unfortunate Tamile were pressed into service, despite their manifest unsuitability for the job. At the current time, the Tamile and Pachekki are locked in a stalemate under the seas. Only the intervention of a third party will break this deadlock.
The Treefolk aren't much found on Earth either. If they were here, they'd be similar in motives to the Banduch, although acting completely independently of them.
No one knows how they got here (or at least, no one's owning up to it). But there are at least four or five hundred Truul running around losoe on planet Earth. Most of them inoffensively serve human masters until their deaths - although recent reports about far eastern sweatshops could point to another possible fate for the race.
As stated above, somewhere, deep underground, there is a nest of Verms, slowly tunneling their way to the surface. Argus doesn't know it yet, but its deadliest day is approaching.
As the psionic war for domination of the Earth heats up, sensitives everywhere are having nightmares and experiencing psychosomatic pains. The actual cause of this is the negative psychic energy left lying around as a result of this covert war. Participants include the Banduch, the Kronin and the Liook Sujaan, among others. An adventure based on this seed is the perfect way to introduce any of these races, or even all of them, and their covert war.
The Lost World
If the characters are sent to investigate any "lost world" type areas, this is a perfect time to bring in the Jaril or Gerodians. The occasional individual of each race will try to set himself (or herself) up as the "living deity" of a primitive tribe or two, and a lost world is where it would work best. Alternately, the Gormelites or the Banduch, either of which will more than likely be assumed to be native to Earth, could be introduced.
There's always the possibility that an untimely death could lead to the dissection, and thus, the exposure, of an alien life form on Earth. Although many of them look like Earth species, their alien biologies would quickly give them away in such a situation. Several alien races regularly impersonate humans, and still others pretend to be other non-human species, and any of these would be likely candidates. Among the human impersonators, this includes the Engai, the Kronin and the Truul. Other likely possibilities include the Banduch, the Cidi, the Gormelites and the Purulu. (For a real change of pace, it could even be a Liook Sujaan - although how anyone would end up dissecting a rock is a difficult question that will need to be answered in this case.)
The Verms Arise
Some day soon, that single Verm nest is going to emerge. What happens next is entirely up to the GM, and on what scale the GM wants to use the Verms. It could be a single isolated outbreak, or a concerted invasion. In the latter case, it's possible that some of the other alien races could emerge from hiding to help humanity battle the Verm menace. The Kronin, the Liook Sujaan and the Banduch are the most likely candidates to do this, although the Kaa are also a possibility. In the former case, it is likely that the Kronin would deem their honour satisfied, and depart Earth shortly afterwards - although if humanity acquitted itself well enough, the Kronin might decide to ally with us, and help Earth become a part of galactic society.
Article publication date: March 17, 2000
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