Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Visitant: Xenotypes


Though many alien species have left a footmark upon the Earth, there are a small number who are particularly common visitants, due to an ability to reliably assume human guise through natural or technological means. Only these species can attempt long-term expeditions to Earth without risking disaster. They are intelligent, technologically and culturally sophisticated, and considered relatively stable.

These xenotypes make up the playable species of Visitant. They have broadly equivalent mechanical capability, and are compatible with each other and with humanity.

Certain other species have the potential to become authorised visitants, but are currently barred from sending expeditions; political instability, a troubled history or biocompatability concerns mean it is unsafe for them to visit. Nevertheless, occasional individuals do find their way to Earth by accident or subterfuge. There are also many problematic species, such as vermin, parasites and predators, that occasionally turn up on Earth despite precautions.

These quarantined species may appear in the game as NPCs and plot elements. They are not considered suitable as player characters for various reasons: they are mindless, mechanically unbalanced, narratively unsuitable, or lacking in long-term interest.

The Visitant Races

The four common visitant species of Earth are ansad, mosa, shekt and ytaleh. These four very different species are capable of living amongst humans undetected, and cooperating in the exploration and study of an inhabited world. They have been authorised at the species level to enter the Earth - even if certain individuals have no such permission.

The mercurial ansaid have no true shape. They are peerless shapeshifters, able to restructure their body down to the cellular level to meet their current purpose. This flexibility has allowed them to spread across the galaxy, and makes them perfectly suited to the early stages of inter-species contact. An ansad visitant adopts a specific human guise for their stay on Earth. This consistency is highly unnatural to the species, and requires great self-control. Ansaid use their morphing abilities to infiltrate societies, social groups and secure facilities alike. In more dangerous circumstances, they may fall back on more primitive talents, forging raw protoplasm into whatever form is needed to survive. They are creatures of the moment, adapting to any company but shrinking from consistency.

Mosas are physically very similar to humans, barring a few cosmetic differences - webbed hands and feet, gill slits, and hairless blue-black skin. All are easily modified for a mission to Earth. Hailing from a highly unstable homeworld, mosas are evolved to cope with radically different environments, with extremely flexible metabolisms. Like the ansaid, mosas' favoured tools are their bodies; unlike the metamorphs, mosas change within, not without. The species are legendarily tough, shrugging off extreme temperatures, appalling wounds and deadly poisons. More than this, they use their bodies as a laboratory, synthesising a range of useful compounds to handle the challenges they face. Confident in their own capabilities, mosas are graceful and assured creatures.

Not even their own philosophers have settled on precisely what a shekt is - or even whether there such a thing as "a shekt". To casual eyes, however, shekts are formed from swarms of pearly insectoids only a few millimetres long, bound together by the resonance of their nervous systems into a large, sentient being. Though very far from human in appearance, the shekt race have amazing biotechnology, allowing them to craft skinsuits that flawlessly imitate many other races. Dressed in a skinsuit, shekt agents can easily pass undetected by primitive human technology. They are masters of psychology and manipulation, often serving as diplomats to improve harmony between species, but soemtimes working purely in their own interests. They possess remarkable psychosonic abilities produced by the vibration of their crystalline shells, and can use their manifold nature to their advantage.

The symbiotic ytaleh evolved as minds for a number of more physical species, and are little more than a tangle of neurons. They are primarily creatures of thought, with little care for material pleasures. Their ability to bind to nervous systems allows them to hide amongst any organic species, hijacking fresh corpses to provide a flawless cover identity. Intelligent and contemplative, ytaleh are excellent scouts and researchers, and quick to learn from the behaviour of their human neighbours. However, their dull senses can cause complications; the species can be unworldly and impractical, and they struggle to understand the concerns of species who experience the world more vibrantly. Ytaleh can harness their neuroelectrical fields to contact and manipulate other minds, detecting mental patterns or disrupting them.

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