Genegrafting, Genetic Engineering, and Anthropomorphics in d20, Part I

   Here we have a selection of “racial” modifiers for anthropomorphic animals and genetically-modified humans.

   Now, in general:

  • All attribute modifiers have been adjusted to medium size and redundant creatures have been dropped. In many cases this has meant the elimination of most donors outside of the small to medium size range since, once the modifiers for size categories had been taken off the resulting attribute modifiers were rather disappointing and closely matched the modifiers for the smaller versions.
  • The damage for natural weapons has also been adjusted for size and – in a few cases – for the smaller jaw of a more anthropomorphic form.
  • The ability of very light animals to substitute their dexterity modifier for their strength modifier in some skill checks no longer applies.
  • All animals have low-light vision. Ergo, this has not been listed with each entry.
  • I’m sticking entirely with vertebrates, and almost entirely with air-breathers. Given that the abilities of animals are derived almost entirely from their physical structures, characters are unlikely to be able to have – say – the physical advantages of a sponge or deep-sea fish while remaining playable. For games with a more scientific basis, that also sticks closely enough to the basic human body form to make it more-or-less “reasonable” for the genetic engineers to be able to lift some ideas.
  • For those who want the hybrid forms, options like fur color and styling have no game effect within the subtypes; someone with feline modifiers can have tiger-styling, lion-styling, panther-styling, or pretty much any other feline or quasi-styling – but the basic modifiers are the same.

   As for as calculating the Eclipse character-point costs go, the anthropomorphic racial packages are considered Specialized: anthropomorphic animals are subject to strong instincts (and may occasionally require will checks to resist those instincts), suffer from various minor physical limitations and major species-related social prejudices, have assorted dietary restrictions, are somewhat limited with regard to equipment (a lot of it must be especially-fitted for particular species), are readily described and recognized, and may have special requirements. In particular, their Natural Armor is considered Specialized as well, since it does not increase with level and is generally blatantly obvious. Where there are notable skill bonuses, an appropriate purchase of “Adept” has also been assumed.

   In the Federation-Apocalypse Setting, where – thanks to the presence of spaceships, guns, powered battle armor, and futuristic hand weapons, mere physical attribute bonuses aren’t too important – the characters are being allowed to get away with the following (quite cheesy) Shapeshift exploit in the guise of “Genegrafts”. It’s purchased as Shapeshift, with Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, and Variants (Human Appearance), Specialized/a single animal form only and Corrupted/cannot actually Change Forms, for a net cost of 9 CP – 8 CP if you drop the “Variants” modifier in favor of a hybrid anthropomorphic form. That little exploit replaces the user’s physical racial attribute modifiers and abilities with those of a chosen small or medium animal. In this case – since the cost is the same for any normal small or medium sized animal – the tendency is (of course) to grab the best set of modifiers available. So far, those have mostly been feline – but a few more specialized choices have come up.

   Creatures have their hit dice listed because – to use that form – the “shapeshifter” must have at least that many hit dice. If you want to start with such a genetic package, you’ll need to buy extra hit dice at level one to fit.

   As for the first set of genetic packages…

   Canines – at least for our purposes – include dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, dholes, african wild dogs, raccoon dogs, hyenas, foxes, and a rather wide variety of crossbreeds and marsupial canine equivalents. While there are many minor variations, in general, they’re either cosmetic or have little or no effect in game terms, hence the following list – canine-body-plan ambush-hunters, stealth-hunters, hunter-scavengers, and chase-hunters – should suffice. While canines are not the most powerful individual creatures out there, they organize and cooperate well, have social behavior patterns which fit nicely into those of many other sapient species, and tend to respect hierarchies. This makes them ideal troops and minions. It would probably be fair to consider them all to have the “Legionnaire” ability.

Creature CP HD Attribute Adjustments: NA NW Scent Move Skills and Special Modifiers
Dog 59 2 Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4 +4 1d6 Yes +4 Jump, +4 Scent Perception, Adept, Track
Fox 51 1 Str +0, Dex +6, Con +4 +2 1d6 Yes +4 Listen, +4 Hide, +4 Scent Perception, Adept, Track
Hyena 56 2 Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4 +2 1d6 Yes +10 +4 Hide, Trip
Wolf 53 2 Str +2, Dex +4, Con +4 +2 1d6 Yes +10 +4 Scent Perception, Trip, Track

   “Get down you idiot! Sure, we could take out a couple of police dogs pretty easily – but then there would be twenty of them on our tail, and we’d both wind up dead!” – Tiang Karr, Panther Thief.

   Felines include lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, housecats, bobcats, lynxs, and all the other true cats – as well as (at least for our purposes) quite a lot of other catlike creatures, such as genets, civets, linsangs, and marsupial cat-equivalents. In general, felines are somewhat more powerful and immediately dangerous than a similarly-sized canine, but are less enduring, do not operate as well in groups. Ergo, felines tend to dominate in niches where there is insufficient prey to support a pack, or where packs have a difficult time operating, while canines tend to dominate those niches which are suitable for supporting packs – and where their lesser developmental investment pays off.

   In an RPG setting, which tends to be more about groups of unique individuals, feline attributes are commonly preferred. Characters who are built with direct feline aspects probably should, however, have a 3 CP disadvantage – they are unable to use the “Aid Another” maneuver, take the Legionnaire ability, or participate in Party Templates, reducing their costs by 3 CP.

Creature CP HD Attribute Adjustments: NA NW Scent Move Skills and Special Modifiers
Bobcat 64 2 Str +4, Dex +6, Con +4 +1 1d6 Yes Climb and Move Silently +4, Balance, Hide, and Jump +8 Adept
Cheetah 67 3 Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4 +1 1d6 Yes +10 Sprint (10x normal when charging 1/hour), Trip
Cat 47 1 Str +2, Dex +4, Con +2 1d6 Yes +10 Climb, Hide, and Move Silently +4, Balance and Jump +8, Adept.
Leopard 76 3 Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4 +1 1d6 Yes +8 Jump, Balance, Climb, +4 Hide, Move Silently. Adept.

   “You can’t expect those lazy vicious bastards to do anything else. Sure they’re elegant and powerful – but any justification for the airs they put on went out with the age of combat by champions.”

   Primates include the monkeys and apes, lorisforms, tarsiers, lemurs, and – for our purposes – anything else that fits the same general description. As a rule, primates have fairly functional hands, large brains, sharp vision, are agile and fairly good at climbing (many actually live in trees, and may swing through them or leap from branch to branch), and are reasonably mobile on two legs (whether or not they normally use all four). Almost all of them are functional omnivores. Most primates have relatively unspecialized bodies, but display complex, and at least partially learned, behavioral adaptions. Most currently-existent primate species are relatively light, although earlier species ran up to five hundred pounds or so. Primates really should seem familiar to most of the players, and virtually all the playable races in most campaigns are usually human-based primates, no matter what superficial modifications have been tacked onto them – including all of those on this list.

   This does still leave some room for improvement however. Humans, have specialized in intelligence, and so (as organisms always do) have reduced their developmental investments elsewhere to compensate. Fortunately, when magic, psionics, genetic engineering, and wishful thinking come into play, characters may have their intelligence and still steal back some of the physical advantages their species has given up to get it.

Creature CP HD Attribute Adjustments: NA NW Scent Move Skills and Special Modifiers
Ape* 34 1 Str +2, Dex +6, Con +0 +1 1d4 Yes   +8 Climb
Baboon 41 1 Str +4, Dex +4, Con +2 +1 1d6 Yes   +8 Climb
Lemur 31 1 Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2 1d4 Yes +10 +4 Climb, Listen, Spot. Adept.
Monkey* 20 1 Str -2, Dex +2, Con +2 1d4 Yes   +8 Balance and Climb, Prehensile Feet and Tail, Adept

   “Have you got to stick your nose into everything? There ARE some bits of the universe that can function without your constant intercession you know!”

   Equines, Bovines, and related forms include horses, onagers, zebras, mules, quagga, bison, buffalo, camels, llamas, ponies, elk, deer, goats, rams, giraffes, okapi, and sheep, among many others. Technically it also includes pigs, elephants, hippopotami, and several other species – but they’re different enough in game terms to get their own chart.

   Unlike carnivores, who exhibit a good deal of evolutionary convergence in their body designs, the larger herbivores tend to radiate – specializing to suit particular environments and food sources. After all, when you come right down to it, plants are a good deal more reliable than hunting and thus a stable group of herbivores can survive in a far more restricted environment than a group of carnivores.

   Even more importantly, a specialized herbivore can digest plants that most competitors cannot handle – and most of them can get a good deal of the water they need from the water in those plants. That isn’t an advantage that comes into play very often, but it means that the herbivores can have and raise more children, have an easier time finding food if they’re old or hurt, will invariably far outnumber the carnivores and omnivores, and – in the case of the larger ones – will pretty much always dominate the animal world. In a world where anthropomorphic races are common, the larger herbivores should probably get some social advantages – allies, connections, and favors – to help make up for their lesser physical abilities. Otherwise they’ll be drastically under-represented in the adventurer population.

   On the downside, ordinary individuals from predatory races will pretty much invariable be considerably physically superior to ordinary individuals from herbivorous races of similar size. If they weren’t, the carnivores would be extinct; if it was a 50-50 battle every time they needed a fresh meal, none of them would get to be old enough to breed.

   That’s part of the reason that, in d20, basic herbivores are considered boring – and thus didn’t get much attention . That’s really pretty justifiable; while real-world hunters spent a great deal of time going after various large herbivores, it’s not going to keep the attention of the people who are playing dragon-slaying heroes, cunning rogues, and mighty magi, for very long. Ergo, the rules don’t spend a lot of effort on differentiating those few basic herbivores that they bother to describe at all. That’s why the chart below has two sets of entries; the basic animals from the d20 system reference document – who generally have no particular racial skill bonuses or special notes – and a somewhat more elaborate set of added animals,

Creature CP HD Attribute Adjustments: NA NW Scent Move Skills and Special Modifiers
Antelope 43 1 Str +0, Dex +6, Con +2 Yes +30 +8 Jump, +4 Spot and Listen. Adept
Bison 36 2 Str +4, Dex +2, Con +2 +2 1d6 Yes  
Camel 34 1 Str +0, Dex +8, Con +0 1d4 Yes +10  
Elk/Deer 39 1 Str +0, Dex +4, Con +4 1d6 Yes +10 +6 Jump and Listen. Adept.
Gazelle 40 1 Str +0, Dex +8, Con +0 Yes +30 +8 Jump, +4 Spot and Listen. Adept
Goat 40 1 Str +2, Dex +2, Con +4 +1 1d6 Yes +4 Balance, Jump, Climb. Adept
Horse 33 1 Str +0, Dex +4, Con +2 +2 1d4 Yes +20  
Llama 40 1 Str +0, Dex +8, Con +0 1d4 Yes +10 +6 Balance and Jump, Adept.
Pony 40 2 Str +4, Dex +2, Con +4 +2 1d3 Yes  
Sheep 37 1 Str +4, Dex +4, Con +0 +1 1d3 Yes +4 Balance, +4 Jump, Adept.

   “How can you eat that rubbish? Much less feed a wife and six thriving kids on it?”

   Reptiles are an ancient group, and (despite the popular notion) do NOT include dinosaurs. If you want statistics for dinosaurs – well, considering how many different species there were, and how limited the information on them actually is, it pretty much comes down to “whatever you can talk the GM into”. It would be fairly easy to justify some creatures substantially nastier than any mammal, both because some of them had a VERY long time to adapt to their specialities and because there are some indications that (at least during some periods) the oxygen content of the air was substantially higher, giving the higher organisms a substantial boost. And no, indications are that dinosaurs were not cold-blooded either.

   Reptiles, of course, are cold-blooded. That has it’s advantages – they need less food and they are less susceptible to a variety of bacterial infections (which also like constant temperatures). On the other hand, they’re sluggish when cold, and can’t heal as quickly – problems which are much more important in play. Ergo, they’re eligible for a pair of disadvantages worth -6 CP – which has already been taken off the CP costs below.

   There are only a few major groups of reptiles left around – although all of those are very old indeed, and therefore are likely to be eminently well suited to their niches. Ergo, we only need one small chart to handle the reptiles.

Creature CP HD Attribute Adjustments: NA NW Scent Move Skills and Special Modifiers
Constrictor 60 3 Str +6, Dex +6, Con +2 +2 1d3 Yes +4 Hide, Listen, and Spot, +8 Balance, Climb and Swim. Adept
Crocodile 61 3 Str +8, Dex +2, Con +6, +4 1d6 No +8 Swim, Hold Breath
Lizard 59 3 Str +6, Dex +4, Con +6 +3 1d6 No +8 Swim, +4 Hide and Move Silently, Adept.
Tortoise 22 1 Str +4, Dex -2, Con +2 +6 1d4 No Sea turtles get a swim bonus and walking penalty.
Viper 44 2 Str -2, Dex +6, Con +0 +3 1d4 Yes +4 Hide, Listen, and Spot, +8 Balance, Climb and Swim. Poison (1d6/1d6 Con, Save DC 11 + Con Mod, purchased as Trick with Bonus Uses), Adept.

   Next up, a few of the more exotic options.

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  1. […] Genetic Engineering, and Anthropomorphics in d20: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part […]

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