A New Race for Traveller, by Jacob D C Ross.
The Takel are an aquatic native to the planet Umina. A minor race hindered by the unique nature of their planet and physiology, the Takel are not widely-dispersed among the stars.
Takel are a genetically diverse aquatic species. They grow to a height of between 1.75 and 2 metres. There are no immediate differences in the appearances of male and female Takel beyond the great variation in appearance from one Takel to another. Takel are omnivorous, generally requiring a diet of 3,500 calories per day, with similar nutritional needs to humans.
Takel bodies are incredibly flexible and dextrous. Takel colouring is variable, and any hue found in the visible spectrum (and beyond) may be present. Their skin can be uniform in colour, spotted, streaked or even covered in fractal patterns. Takel skin varies from smooth to bumpy to scaly. Due to their wild genetics, Takel offspring seldom bear any resemblance to their parents.
Takel each have eight arms (not tentacles), with each arm containing a great number of neurons connected to the brain. Each arm houses 3.5 percent of the total brain mass of the Takel, giving the arms amazing co-ordination. Seeing the impossible-seeming contortions, quick-as-a-flash movements and exotic colouring of the Takel, alien visitors to Umina have reportedly been moved to tears at Takel displays of dexterity, such as dance or athletics.
Takel have four eyes and two beaks, and effectively two faces. The first is found at the front of the head, while the second face is at the top of the head, allowing the Takel to see and eat prey while swimming at top speed.
Takel reproduce sexually and are egg layers, with the eggs kept within the mother. A typical Takel pregnancy has approximately twenty fertilised eggs but perhaps only two are likely to survive to term. Takel mature at approximately sixteen Earth years (seven Umina years) and live to about the age of 68 (29.75 Umina years).
Takel do not have vocal cords and so must use a vocoder in order to converse in other languages, in a similar manner to the Hivers. Takel language consists of a series of clicks made with their beaks, requiring non-Takel to use a specialised vocoder to speak in the Takel language.
The Takel manifest psionic ability in roughly the same percentage of the population as humans. Psionically-endowed Takel tend to have the same psionic strength as their counterparts in other species, but when in the water their abilities are enhanced.
The presence of unique mutagens on Umina severely affect Takel genetics. As a result, Takel have a wide variety of traits that manifest differently from individual to individual. When creating a character, roll once on the table below for any mutations present.
2 Chamelon Skin
5-6 Two Tentacles
7 No Mutation
8-9 Thick Skin
10-11 Enhanced Jet Propulsion
Chameleon Skin: The Takel can change the color of its skin. This grants it a +2 DM on all Stealth checks, provided that they are wearing transparent clothing or are nude.
Poison: The Takel can deliver neurotoxin (see page 74 of the Traveller Main Rulebook) via a bite.
Two Tentacles: Two of the Takel’s arms are actually tentacles, terminating in hard claws. When used as weapons the tentacles do D6+2 damage.
Thick Skin: The Takel has natural Armour 1.
Enhanced Jet Propulsion: When using their jet propulsion (see below) the Takel gains an additional +3 metres that it may move in a turn.
Amphibian: The Takel is adapted for both land and water habitats, and may breathe air, but still needs a survival suit to venture into alien oceans and must ingest Umina-specific chemicals daily.
In Takel who have a Psionic Strength characteristic, the ability to draw upon their environment for power is present. A Takel can power their talents by taking Psionic Strength from willing participants within a radius equal to Psi DM x 10 metres. The psion may take a single Psi point from one being per point of the psion’s Psi DM to power a talent. All participants must be fully submerged in the same body of water.
When creating a Takel character, make the following adjustments:
Notable Dex (4D6)
Aquatic: The Takel cannot operate outside Umina’s ocean (including other oceanic environments) without using survival suits.
Jet Propulsion: If a Takel chooses to do nothing but move for its turn and is in a fluid medium, it may use their innate jet propulsion system to double its movement. Each time it does this counts as two rounds of action for the purposes of fatigue.
Multi-tasking: Due to their complex neural systems, Takel gain an extra minor action each round.
To adventure outside of their ocean, including within an alien ocean, a Takel requires a survival suit.
Survival Suit (TL 13)
The suit is of non-Takel manufacture and must be imported. It is a nearly skin-tight apparatus that provides the salt water mixture a Takel requires to live, including the unique mixture of chemicals peculiar to Umina. Using this suit, the Takel can survive and interact on land and within alien oceans. The survival suit costs Cr. 4,500 and requires Cr. 20 worth of chemical refills per week. A completely transparent model costs Cr. 13,500.
Takel live on Umina (C66A622-7 S R NI Ri Wa), and have done so for the entirety of their civilisation, which stretches back at least 32,000 years. This age is only verified by historical account, not by archaeology, as the lack of minerals on Umina and the mildly-corrosive nature of its ocean means few artefacts of the past have survived.
The Takel govern themselves by convention, meeting every two Umina years (4.4 Earth years) to settle important matters and direct Takel efforts. Once a majority of 80% agree on a course of action, that plan is enacted. Disagreements seldom arise, not because the Takel get along uncommonly well, but because of their individualistic natures. Takel leave one another to their own plans on the understanding they will not be bothered by their companions.
Takel science is somewhat lacking in most areas. Without access to vast mineral resources on the very sparse land of Umina, the Takel have not achieved much in the way of transportation or computer technology. As they are perfectly adapted to their environment, the Takel never researched housing or buildings beyond basic protective barriers to keep safe from large predators. The Takel have excelled in creating personal weapons and traps to defend themselves against the megafauna that stalk Umina, and their skill with medicine is astonishing. The Takel quickly adapted their own medical technology for other species after first contact. Since Umina is mineral-poor, offworld traders provide the Takel with TL 7 or TL 8 equipment they do not have the infrastructure to manufacture for themselves, while Takel medicine is at TL 14 and nearing TL 15.
Takel have a very permissive attitude with regard to body modification, as they do not have an orthodox ‘look’ to the species, and they are tolerant of physical forms outside of the norm. Rather than cybernetic enhancements, the Takel usually opt for biological enhancements. Some of the most popular include crustacean claws, bio-electrical shock systems, limb regeneration and echolocation organs. These are also some of the most popular augments that the Takel sell, after gills and corrosive-resistant skin.
Within galactic society the Takel play a minor role. Those who venture away from Umina generally find work as doctors, entertainers, scouts (especially useful on aquatic worlds) and soldiers. Few Takel do leave their world, however, as many find the need for a survival suit to be too great a burden for the chance to adventure. Umina’s ocean contains a certain mix of chemicals that the Takel require in order to survive, and so in addition to wearing a survival suit, the suit must be precisely calibrated.
The majority of adventures involving Takel will take place on Umina. The small ocean planet contains scant few islands, but corporate and scientific interests have constructed a floating city, Namitam, that serves as the planet’s downport. Submarine tours are available for hire and the Takel will welcome strangers to their sea floor settlements, out of curiosity, if not hospitality. Umina has several sites of interest.
There is a portal near the southern pole, of unknown design. It is actually a jump gate, linking Umina with an unknown watery realm. The water within this realm contains the same mix of chemicals required to support Takel life, but does not appear to have a solid surface, although large spheroids of rock do float within it. It is home to all manner of aquatic creatures, as well as jump gates to other planets with a Hydrographic score of 7 or greater. The portal is large enough to allow passage to a submarine twice the size of modern nuclear subs.
A psion cult is hidden near the ruins. They are led by a mad Takel priest who wants to use the portal to hydroform the planets linked to the portal to be hospitable for Takel life. This would, of course, utterly decimate the native ecosystem of the hydroformed planet. The cult use their abilities of Telekinesis, Energy Kinesis and Psionic Attack to devastating effect (see Book 4: Psion). Additionally, the cult may inundate the minds of Travellers with images of their monstrous deity and false dangers, perhaps causing them to turn on their comrades or open the airlock while underwater. If the cult detect scholarly minds with appropriate political connections or technical knowledge they will try to capture and brainwash the crew in order to receive the information and materials their operation requires.
Takel perhaps work best as a supporting force. They make fine patrons in that most of what they want in terms of material must be imported and few Takel have the desire to leave their homes. Takel NPCs should be socially outgoing, but reserved enough to not readily allow strangers into their inner circle.
Takel encountered off-world will usually be merchants selling medicine or doctors offering bio-augmentations. Because of the cost of living incurred with the required modifications to most of their equipment, Takel medical supplies and other wares should be offered at a higher price than usual. Of course, Takel medical services are often more advanced than those readily available, so players will likely have use for them.
If the referee decides to use the Takel as an enemy, the easiest way would be by using the southern jump gate and the psionic cult that guards it. The referee should feel free to make the hydroforming apparatus work swiftly, eradicating native ecosystems quickly. For added threat, allow the Takel to win their first planet with ease, taking the capital of whatever government the players serve, Earth, or a player’s homeworld. In true battle the Takel would prove to be a serious nuisance, utilising guerilla tactics like stealth strikes and harrying units.