Evolved in the depths of Luna, the
Selenites can best be likened to
Earthly insects. Indeed, they most
closely resemble a cross between a
human being and a beetle, and their
social habits are as bizarre as those
of any insect community.
This is the start of an article on Selenites, which seems better to me as a separate article, rather than being intergrated into the module.
The Selenites live all through the
area of caverns on Luna. The community encountered in this adventure, the one nearest the great gorge,
is typical of an individual community, usually isolated by many miles
from the next independent community.
THE SELENITE VILLAGE
THE SELENITE VILLAGE is scattered throughout a series of connecting spherical caverns, as shown on the accompanying map.
Note: This section originally appeared after the article Selenite Civilization", but I moved it here for the purpose of continuity.
Outer Caves: A large number of Selenites are being directed to mine
the cave walls. They have no sophisticated machinery and are simply
using their clawed hands to scrape away at the rock. Other Selenites,
with carbines, are apparently in charge, forcing the others to work.
This is pretty lame. If this is the best mining operation the Selenites can manage, Tereshkovitch would probably have been better served by bringing his own picks and tools, wiping out the selenite villiage with some soldiers, and done the mining himself. To rectify this, I have added a "miner" caste to Selenite Society (see below).
The Hives: There are two large spherical caverns devoted to the hives.
On first examination, they appear much like giant beehives, except that
the hive cells are square rather than hexagonal and are made of some
ceramic material, not wax. The humans may witness several of the cells
lit from the inside with glowing fungus, and perhaps see the gyrations
of a young Selenite about to be born. They might also see newly emerged
Selenites cleaning themselves with the help of the custodians of the hive.
The Nursery: Also unlike bees, Selenites apparently are not fully
capable of functioning in their society upon emerging from the hive,
as-evidenced by this nursery. Dozens of young Selenites, though of full
size, are being tended to here. They are being given food and are being
trained to care for themselves by more custodians.
The Fungus Farm: The fungus farm (for lack of a better term) contains a few dozen Selenites, again under the direction of other armed
Selenites, tending to and harvesting the food fungus. Selenites working here move the fungus on their backs to the hives and nursery and
out to the outer caves where the mining is taking place.
This is a good detail, but I think the "Fungus Farm" room is a trifle small to support 150 Selenites. Logically, the Selenite Villiage should be situated to have good access to both food supply and water supply. There ought to be a much larger cavern, most likely a water cavern, that is used as farmland. |
This cavern should be quite large (over 1000 yards across) and have a small lake at it's center, with water flowing in via a water tunnel, and out the same way. The entrance to the lower water channel has been partially blocked off by the selenites under Tereshkovitch, to form a small dam. Likewise, irrigation "aqueducts" made from Mushroom Tree trunks travel all around the region, bringing water to all parts of the cavern. The "Fungus Farm" cavern should be the entrance to the actual Farm, and is also a room where the Selenites pass their waste, for use as fertilizer by the farmers.
Tereshkovitch: This cavern is the office and living space of the only
human resident of Luna, Vladimir Tereshkovitch.
THE SELENITES, though physically indistinguishable to human
eyes, all perform distinct tasks within
their group which are predestined
from the time they emerge from the
hive. There are three broad classifications of Selenite: drone, custodian,
and specialist. They are described
briefly below, and their relevant attributes are given in the Selenite NPC
Table. Selenites have no Charisma
or Social Level attributes, these being meaningless to Selenite society.
Drones: The drone is the basic
working unit. Drones are in charge
of growth and collection of food.
The category "Drone" refers to a Selenite who performs labour for the good of the villiage. It is divided into three "sub-castes":
This somewhat derogatory term is used to refer to the Farmers of the Selenite society, since these Selenites typically spend a fair amount of their time handling Selenite waste products, particularily feces, which are used as fertilizer in the Fungus Farms. Because of their day-to-day handling of such materials, the Filth-Eaters are virtually immune to most toxins and diseases.
The Filth-Eaters actually do eat filth, which is fortified by enzymes within their bodies to create a material that naturally accelerates the growth rates of Lunar Fungus.
The "Shining Ones" are the miners of the Selenite community. They perform this task by eating the green glow-fungus, whose interiors are highly acidic and not digestible by any other caste. This acidic material is contained in a second stomach, where it's acidity is enhanced by the addition of stomach acids. When engaged in mining, this acid is vomited onto the surface to be mined. The acid will slowly eat away at and soften rock, which can then be chewed away by the miner's mandibles. Naturally this is a time consuming process, but effective in the long run, particularily since Selenites are very methodical and have little concept of the passage of time.
This ability has been used by the miners to dig a variety of tunnels that honeycomb the interior of Luna, including the ones that the ambushers used to capture the party. This ability also makes the Shining Ones good carpenters, and the mushroom trees can be easily cut and carved by them. The name "Shining Ones" comes from the fact that as a side effect of eating the glow-fungus, the Shining Ones bodies emit a faint green glow, which is concentrated primarily in the ridges around the eye lenses and antennae. This glowing allows these Selenites to see what they are doing while tunneling a fresh cavern, since no glow-fungus will be present in such a tunnel to light the way.
These drones use their biological processes to create clay for use in constructing hives and clay pots for the storage of food and water. They do this by ingesting sand, mud, and gravel, which their second stomach converts into a much more claylike substance. This substance is then extruded and can be shaped as needed into whatever is desired. This material can have the consistency of ordinary clay, but can also be used to make a transparent glassy substance, though this requires the Clay-Maker to have access to much rarer minerals, which includes a good supply of ground quartz or other crystal.
Since the Selenites do not use kilns or potters' wheels, these objects will usually look rather bizarre and unshapely, though the Selenites do decorate these objects in a strange and alien fashion.
Custodians: Custodians are in
charge of the young, from their time
in the hive through their emergence
and on into their first few weeks of
life. The custodians are generally
slightly more intelligent and agile
than their drone counterparts, having
an Intellect of 2 and an Agility
of 3. Custodians also have the ability
to secrete nutritious by-products
of their own fungus intake which are
particularly helpful when feeding the
young in the hive.
The Custodian caste is dedicated to the protection and care of the Selenite community and is also divided up into sub-castes:
Nurses are responsible for the care and rearing of young, and also perfoem all of the breeding done by the Selenites. The process involves periodically getting samples of Selenite sperm and eggs from members of other castes, and they incubate these for a short time within their own bodies. Other Selenites are capable of bearing children, but have little of the instincts necessary to care for them that Nurses do.
Once born, the larvae are placed in the hive chambers, and sealed in with a kind of flimsy secreted webbing. During this time they are fed a form of processed food that the Nurses make by ingestion and regurgitation; this food is quite similar to royal jelly made by bees, though it has a smoky smell and flavour and a musky though not unpleasant aftertaste. They incubate in these chambers for about three weeks, and emerge from the hive shortly after that. While the young are no longer larvae and are fully formed (if not grown) they are nevertheless not yet able to function in Selenite Society and must be taught to survive by the Nurses.
The protective instinct of the Nurses has served Tereshkovitch, since with the absence of soldiers the Selenite Villiage relies on Nurses for protetion. The Nurses would prefer not to have to fight but recognize the need and are willing to work as guards as a result.
The Soldier caste are large and powerful (at least compared to other Selenites), and their exoskeleton is much harder and thicker than other selenites. They also have large powerful mandibles with which they can bite enemies, their primary form of attack, and they also have large stingers in their tails which secrete a special venom (generated by their second stomach), which they can also spit into bite wounds. This Venom causes the victim to suffer nausea, vertigo, and disorientation, though among humans it also can create euphoria and hallucinations, which can be either pleasant or frightening.
Soldiers are very xenophobic and not particularly smart and will attack outsiders on sight. Because of this, when Tereshkovitch first arrived he and his men were attacked by the soldiers and had to kill them all. Though Tereshkovitch did not at first think they were part of the same species, once he realized that the Soldiers had been a part of the Selenite Villiage he has forbidden the Nurses to breed more.
However, it is possible that Soldiers who are raised wth a human present will recognize that human as a part of the villiage and be willing to coexist with and even protect that human.
Specialists: These Selenites are
rare, so much so, in fact, that sometimes
only one or even none of a particular
specialist type exist in a given
community. They include such things
as hive builders and retainers of
knowledge. Apparently the community
knows when it needs a specialist,
and one is immediately produced in
the hive. Specialists have an overall
Intellect of 4 and an Endurance of 3,
but are otherwise the same as custodians.
Specialists are Selenites who have tasks that call for a greater level of intelligence than most Selenites and are also divided into sub castes:
"Retainers of Knowledge"|
Retainers of Knowledge are responsible for the preservation of Selenite Culture through memorization of oral tradition. The brains of Retainers of Knowledge are excellent for the task of memorization, far beynd what normal humans are capable of. They are able to memorize and retain vast amounts of information, and do so with a religious zeal, believing that all of the body of Selenite Knowledge should be preserved, even though much of it is no longer of use.
Naturally, Retainers of Knowledge have an Eidetic memory and can remember anything they have seen or heard, and so they are naturals at language and storytelling, and any sort of description that might be required.
Retainers of Knowledge are also the planners of a villiage community, and when a new region is being occupied, the Retainers of Knowledge will make a variety of markings in certain areas to indicate what the purpose of those areas is. These markings are arbitrary and are learned from youth when a young Selenite sees these markings in a chamber and associates those markings with what goes on in that chamber. If a marking says "Hive", then clay-makers will automatically begin building a hive there, if one does not exist already. If a marking says "Latrine", then Selenites will leave their waste there to be collected by Farmers, etc.
These markings are made by the use of the second stomach, which in the case of Retainers of Knowledge can be used to make paints and pigments, including glowing ones made with the use of Glow-Fungus. This is actually the most common type of marking, but the glow and colour eventually wear out, and must be periodically re-painted.
The duty of the scout is to travel away from the Selenite villiage and both explore the sublunar environment and meet and negotiate with other tribes of Selenites. Because of the need to travel and observe, the Scout caste is equipped with wings with which it can fly about in the atmosphere of the Lunar underworld.
Still, negotiating with a foreign group of Selenites is a tricky prospect, since a Soldier Selenite will attack an outsider on sight. The flying ability of the scout can keep them out of reach of the Soldiers, but this is not enough if the Scout wishes to estblish communication. However, the scout does posess an ability to create a sweet jelly much like the Nurse caste, but in this case the purpose of the jelly is to allow the Soldiers to become familiar with the scout.
The Scout will vomit some of the jelly in front of the Soldiers, who will all eat a small amount. The jelly will have a scent and taste specific to the Scout, and after sampling the jelly the Soldiers will not automatically regard the Scout as an outsider; they will associate his scent with the jelly, which is a sort of "peace offering", and will allow him to communicate with others in the tribe. Because of this ability, it is generally up to a tribe's scouts to defend it against enemy scouts, though traditionally a scout will not use this ability if its presence constitutes an attack. If a scout has previously broken the truce inherent in offering the jelly, a soldier will not honour the "peace offering" a second time.
Communities have no specific
leader. All functions are performed
seemingly without direction, though
there must be some sort of low-level
communication between all members
of the community.
SELENITE NPC TABLE
|Type||Str ||Agl ||End ||Int ||Cbt ||Carbine|
|Drone ||1 ||2 ||3 ||1 ||1 ||0 |
|Custodians ||1 ||3 ||2 ||2 ||3 ||3 |
|Specialists ||1 ||3 ||3 ||4 ||4 ||3 ||
SELENITE NPC TABLE
||1 ||6 ||4 ||1 ||1 ||1 ||1 |
||2 ||5 ||4 ||1 ||1 ||2 ||1 |
||1 ||7 ||3 ||1 ||2 ||2 ||1 |
||1 ||6 ||4 ||2 ||3 ||4 ||3 |
||3 ||7 ||5 ||1 ||1 ||3 ||5 |
||1 ||7 ||4 ||3 ||4 ||5 ||3 |
||1 ||5 ||3 ||4 ||3 ||6 ||3 |
THE SELENITES are sentient beings who have evolved in a very different environment. Their bug-like
appearance makes them quite repulsive to the human eye. The lesser
gravity of Luna has made them rather
weak by human standards. As their
intelligence is quite low, their community organization does not require
tremendous personal initiative.
Selenites are roughly five feet long
from head to bottommost feet, and
stand about two feet high when on
all their limbs. They only weigh
about 30 pounds on the Moon, or 60
pounds on Earth, since much of their
outer skeletal structure is hollow.
The Selenite face has two saucersized,
multifaceted eyes and a large
vertical mouth. The teeth are not for
tearing or cutting, but for grinding,
since their chief sources of food are
the brown and the gray fungi. Their
six limbs are identical, each with
three "elbow" joints and a bony
hand with three fingers.
Selenites are hermaphroditic; that
is, they have both female and male
sexual organs in each individual.
Individuals give birth in a cell of the
hive when the community needs additional
drones, custodians, or specialists.
The incubation process takes
three weeks until a new young Selenite
is ready to emerge from the hive.
Once it emerges, the young Selenite
must be nursed for three more weeks
until it is ready to function on its
A Selenite is likely to live for no
more than 10 Earth years before its
body eventually gives out, and it
dies. It will spend all of that time
performing its function for the community
- Selenites have no sleep cycle.
At this stage it is worth mentioning that all Selenites have a second stomach, and each caste uses it to perform a different function, one which has little to do with food ingestion but instead has to do with the work that particular Selenite performs for the community.
Also, clearly Selenites have compound eyes, which makes them difficult to sneak up on. These compound eyes allow a Selenite to see in all directions, though there is a "blind spot" created by the area occupied by the body. Thus, an upright Selenite cannot see what is directly under him without moving, and a supine Selenite will not be able to see what is directly behind him. However, since Selenites cannot close their eyes, something like a flare designed to blind someone will be particularily effective against Selenites.
Selenites are very light and have a gripping strength quite high in proportion to their weight. Combined with the lower gravity of Luna, this allows Selenites to climb the walls of their caverns, and even suspend themselves from the ceiling, though this does not come quite as naturally as with Earthly insects. However, it should not be unusual to find a Selenite crawling on the ceiling, for example.
Selenites also have an innate direction sense that allows them to tell which direction their home is regardless of the distance travelled. However, this sense does get distorted if the Selenite travels a substantial distance around the curvature of Luna (more than a few hundred miles). This sense is particularly refined in the Miner caste, who can create a tunnel from one chamber to another with unerring accuracy, provided they have previously been to both chambers.
THE SELENITES have evolved
virtually no technology of their own.
They had no concept of it until
Tereshkovitch arrived with rifles. As it is,
the armed Selenites do not have the
required Strength to fire the carbines
The only history of the Selenites
is a remembered history passed down
by the retainers of knowledge. If a
retainer dies without being replaced
in advance, all that knowledge is lost,
since other Selenites do not have the
memory capacity necessary to carry
on these historical traditions. All
history is lost, and the community
must start virtually from barbarism.
(K'chuk, whom the players will encounter
while in captivity, is a retainer
of knowledge, and his death
would constitute a catastrophe for the
Selenite village, although characters
might not determine this right away.)
THE SELENITES have a unique perspective on life as a result of their social setup. Selenites do not have the social network of the "family" to tie them together, and as a result tend to see their villiage or tribe as a "family", and will have a hard time understanding the term "family" in other ways. Of course, their are divisions within this "family"; a farmer would see other farmers he works with as his "immediate" family, with the rest of the villiage constituting an "extended" family.
Since Selenites do not mate in the ordinary sense, and gain little physical pleasure from sexual activity, the idea of gender roles or sexual relationships will seem ludicrous to them. They will probably interpret the human gender differences (if they notice at all) in terms of two distinct human "castes". If a male member of the party was to tell them that women are inferior and do not make decisions in human society, a Selenite would consider this gospel and never would imagine that there was something wrong or unfair about it.
While the Selenite society may seem somewhat monolithic, with all parts serving the whole selflessly, it is important to remember that the Selenites are still individuals, with their own minds, with emotions and ideals. These emotions do work somewhat differently than with humans, of course.
A Selenite naturally has strong convictions concerning his tribe, and also has less of an ego, so that Selenites rarely are ambitious outside of a desire to do their job well. However, Selenites also do play on occaision as well, and their games tend to be interesting, if a little obscure.
SELENITES WORSHIP a being they refer to as the "Water Mother", a being who supports the cycles of life by providing water to the world. Selenites understand that the growth of Fungus and other Sublunar lifeforms depends on water to exist. Water also tends to bring sediment with it, which helps the Fungus to have material to grow in.
The Water Mother is usually represented as a blue orb, and spherical icons are often made from the special translucent porcelain made by the Potter caste. This urn will be filled with a blue fluid made by a Retainer of Knowledge, and will often seem slightly luminous and will have pockets of white sudsy foam drifting about in it. This liquid (the formula of which is a secret held by the Retainers) has an ability to remain cooler than the environment around it by a few degrees. This results in condensation forming on the outside of these icons, dripping water down into a pool that is usually placed underneath. The ability of these icons to apparently produce water from nothing is seen as proof of the holiness of these icons.
For more details about the lore and legends of the Selenites, see the "Selenite Legends" article in the "Lost Worlds" page.
SELENITE GAMES usually tend to be cooperative efforts meant to achieve some abstract goal; a popular Selenite game involves an attempt to make a pyramid of Selenites in order to allow a mark to be placed on the ceiling. Another, "Pass the Mushroom", has the entire villiage of Selenites passing one or several mushrooms of different varieties around in a circle. Usually grey mushrooms are passed clockwise, while brown mushrooms are passed counterclockwise. Mushrooms are continually added to the chain until everything breaks down or the mushrooms have made a complete circuit.
Such games are sometimes inter-caste, though some games are played within a single caste as well. Soldiers like to wrestle and otherwise playfight with each other, and scouts like to race. Miners sometimes play a "collective sculpture" game where they take turns biting pieces out of a chunk of mushroom wood. The sculpture is finished when everyone agrees that it looks like something. The game can be played with a piece of rock but this will take place over several weeks, the miners periodically visiting the rock to see what can be added.
Humans observing these games might have a hard time understanding just what is going on. They might ascribe it as some sort of religious ceremony or status ritual, when in fact they are simply idle diversion. Humans might be invited by K'Chuk to join in one of these games (called "Za'Chkk" in Selenite), though K'Chuk will have a hard time explaining why such activities are taking place. After a game is complete, the Selenites will twitter and mingle for a little while, and then go their separate ways. The players may figure it out at this stage, or they might not.
Generating Selenite NPC's can be easy using this system, although player-character Selenites are going to be unusual. If a player wishes to play a Selenite, it is recommended that they play one of the Sport caste, since these are the Selenites best equipped psychologically to be away from their villiage for long periods of time.
Selenites have a variety of characteristic modifiers based on their race, which cannot be changed.
Selenites are very weak and are adapted for the low gravity of the Lunar environment. As a result, subtract two from a Selenite's Strength rating if it is four or above. If the Strength rating is only two or three, only subtract one point. If a Selenite's Strrength rating is already one, do not subtract any points.
Selenites are nimble and dextrous, and move very quickly. As a result, they have an enhanced Agility Score. Add two points to a Selenite's Agility rating, unless the rating is already five or higher, in which case add only one point.
Selenites possess an Exoskeleton, making them fairly durable, and are generally very healthy; there are few diseases that affect Selenites and they do not suffer from deleterious aging effects. As a result, their Endurance scores are typically higher than a Human's; add one to a Selenite's Endurance score unless the score is already five or higher.
Selenites are not very intelligent, and do not handle situations well if they are outside their realm of experience. As a result, subtract two from a Selenite's Intellect rating if it is four or above. If the Intellect rating is only two or three, only subtract one point. If a Selenite's Intellect rating is already one, do not subtract any points.
For Selenites, Charisma represents how well they relate to outsiders, meaning humans. Since Selenites are very alien and have difficulty communicating with other races, their Charisma scores are low. Within Selenite society, Charisma matters little, and Social standing is much more important in determining who can convince who of something, etc.
Selenites do not have access to all the skills in the skill system, thanks to their non-technological culture. However, many skills can be learned by the Selenite if that particular Selenite has access to training in those skills. Skills that are not allowed are:
In addition, some Cascade skills are not allowed except for a specific skill. These skills are:
Wilderness Travel (except Spelunking)
Engineering (except Earthworks)
Science (except Lunar Biology)
Also, several Social Level Skills fall under different categories for Selenites:
Riding counts as a Strength skill
Piloting counts as an Agility skill
Medicine counts as an Intellect skill
Finally, Selenites have access to a set of specific Special skills available only to them. These are considered "Social Level" skills, but the Selenite never needs to roll to develop the skill; the skills are automatically developed if experience points are put into them. All Selenites start with a level of one in their appropriate special skill by default. Such Special skills are all Caste-specific and can only be learned by someone of that caste. The individual special skills are covered under each caste, below.
|Farmers||Mulching||The ability to process waste materials into useful fertilizer using the second stomach.|
|Miners||Corrosion||The ability to produce and use corrosive materials produced by the second stomach to wear down materials such as rock and wood.|
|Potters||Claymaking||The ability to produce clays and glasslike substances using the second stomach.|
|Soldiers||Venom||The ability to produce Venom that can be administered through a stinger attack or a bite.|
|Nurses||Breeding||The ability to select genetic material and produce offspring of a desired nature. This skill is rarely used creatively by Selenites any more and is generally used by rote to produce the "normal" castes of Selenite.|
|Nurses||Jelly||The ability to produce Jelly with the second stomach, for consumption by young Selenites.|
|Scouts||Peace Offering||The ability to produce a special variety of Jelly to use as a "peace offering" to placate enemy soldiers||
|Scouts||Flying||The ability to fly using chitinous wings.|
| Retainers ||Memorization ||The eidetic memory ability of Retainers of Knowledge. This skill acts as a bonus to memory-intensive skills such as Linguistics and knowledge skills (Arts, Law, Science, etc.) but only acts as a bonus to learning. Retainers of Knowledge do not automatically start with a high rating in all of these skills.|
|Retainers||Paintmaking||The Ability to produce coloured paints and dyes using the second stomach.|
Selenites will have a single career based on their attributes, and can never change this career. They may take the career once or twice, but may not change careers.
Since Selenite Social class is based on Career, if a Selenite character's attributes (not counting social level) match the prerequisites for a given career, simply adjust the character's social level to what is appropriate.
- Farmer: End 4+, Soc 1.
Default Skills: Mulching 1, Labour (Farming) 1 (Fungus).
Career Skills: Mulching 1, Labour (Farming) 2 (Fungus), Foraging 2, Engineering 1 (Earthworks), Wilderness Travel 1 (Spelunking).
- Miner: Str 2+, Soc 2-.
Default Skills: Corrosion 1, Labour (Mining) 1.
Career Skills: Corrosion 2, Labour (Mining) 2, Engineering 2 (Earthworks), Wilderness Travel (Spelunking) 1.
- Potter: Agl 6+, Soc 2-.
Default Skills: Craft 1 (Pottery), Claymaking 1.
Career Skills: Craft 2 (Pottery), Claymaking 2, Foraging 1, Wilderness Travel 1 (Spelunking), Swimming 1.
- Soldier: Str 3+, Soc 3-4.
Default Skills: Close Combat 1, Venom 1.
Career Skills: Close Combat 2, Venom 1, Wilderness Travel 1 (Spelunking), Foraging 1, Observation 1, Fieldcraft 1.
- Nurse: Int 2+, Chr 2+, Soc 3-4.
Default Skills: Breeding 1, Jelly 1.
Career Skills: Breeding 1, Jelly 1, Medicine 2, Close Combat 1, Observation 1, Biology (Lunar) 1.
- Scout: Agl 6+, Chr 3+, Soc 5-6.
Default Skills: Flying 1, Peace Offering 1.
Career Skills: Flying 2, Peace Offering 1, Wilderness Travel 1 (Spelunking), Linguistics 1, Foraging 1, Close Combat 1, Observation 1.
- Retainer: Int 4+, Chr 2+, Soc 6.
Default Skills: Memorization 1, Paint Making 1
Career Skills: Memorization 2, Paint Making 1, Arts (Lunar History) 2, Observation 1, Leadership 1.
Detailed Start |
The Descent |
Within Luna |
The Escape |