Tardigrades

targigrade.jpgThis insect-like race lives in the Salt Flats. They are extremophiles, perfectly adapted to the cold, arid, alkaline nature of their homes.

The Tardigrades were once the keepers of all wealth in the world—mining the salt and spices from their homeland and trading them with other races. They maintain great towers of salt in many cities, acting as bankers controlling the precious material. They developed advanced technology in the areas of Finance, Clockworks, Cryptography, Glass-making , and Record-keeping.

The Tardigrade society was destroyed by the Salt-Rains that ended the second age. Many young tardigrades awakened later, protected by their hosts, but with no memory of their former glory and advancement. Through the long, slow processes of trial and error, the new generations of Tardigrades have relearned much of what was lost to the cataclysm, and much else, mastering all manner of sciences and engineering.

Physical Description: Tardigrades have barrel-shaped bodies with four pairs of stubby, poorly articulated legs. Most range from 3 to 5 feet in length, although the largest species may reach as much as 12 feet. The body consists of a head, three body segments with a pair of legs each, and a caudal segment with a fourth pair of legs. The legs are without joints while the feet have four to eight claws each. Only the four lowest legs are necessary for mobility, and the upper four are used for manipulation. The cuticle contains chitin and protein and is moulted periodically.
tardigrade.jpg
Tardigrades are eutelic, meaning all adult tardigrades of the same species have the same number of cells. The body cavity consists of a single open circulatory system, but the only place where a true blood can be found is around the gonad. There are no respiratory organs, with gas exchange able to occur across the whole of the body. Tardigrades have three tubular excretory glands near the rectum, though they only defecate when they molt, leaving the feces behind with the shed cuticle.

The tubular mouth is armed with stylets, which are used to pierce the plant cells, algae, or animals on which the tardigrades feed, releasing the body fluids or cell contents. The mouth opens into a triradiate, muscular, sucking pharynx. The stylets are lost when the tardigrade molts, and a new pair is secreted from a pair of glands that lie on either side of the mouth. The pharynx connects to a short oesophagus, and then to an intestine that occupies much of the length of the body, which is the main site of digestion.

The brain includes multiple lobes, mostly consisting of three bilaterally paired clusters of neurons. The brain is attached to a large ganglion below the oesophagus, from which a double ventral nerve cord runs the length of the body. The cord possesses one ganglion per segment, each of which produces lateral nerve fibres that run into the limbs. They possess a pair of pigment-cup eyes, and there are numerous sensory bristles on the head and body.

Tardigrades are oviparous, and have internal fertilization, with mating occurring before the female fully sheds her cuticle. In most cases, the eggs are left inside the shed cuticle to develop, but some attach them to nearby substrate. The eggs hatch after no more than 14 days, with the young already possessing their full complement of adult cells. Growth to the adult size therefore occurs by enlargement of the individual cells (hypertrophy), rather than by cell division. Tardigrades may moult up to 12 times.

Society & Relations: Tardigrades have been an integral part of society since their creation. Gifted mathematicians and theorists, they developed the first systems of commerce, record keeping, and computation. While other cultures have toyed with other currencies, the pure salts mined by the Tardigrades remains the primary medium of trade throughout the world. The Tardigrade banks are famous for the antikythera mechanisms, clockwork computing, and advanced cryptographics that they use for protecting their investors’ information.

Tardigrades make their homes in the Salt Flats, where few other beings can survive for long periods of time. Their original capital of Fleur de Sel, at the base of the Salt Pillar, was drowned in the Great Salt Lake, but four large cities remain: Io, Kosh, Crys, and P’kling. While they have had minor border skirmishes, the Tardigrades have never been particularly concerned with military matters. Few races have any desire for the Tardigrades inhospitable lands, and there is an interdependence between the other races who need the Tardigrade’s financial services and technological exports, and the Tardigrades who need substantial food imports.

In recent years the Tardigrades have had a close alliance with the Monarus. The two races freely share their technological expertise with each other and the Tardigrade financiers actively collaborate with the Monarus train magnates to maintain monopolies on a number of goods necessary to the Catamarok Empire (most especially their water purification systems).

Alignment and Religion: Tardigrades are largely amoral, caring more about the acquisition of wealth and economic power than the good of any other individual or society.

Names: Tardigrade names are generally short, monosyllabic, and gender-neutral, with many uvular, venal, and alveolar stops, but no sibbilants or fricatives. They have a highly complex system of honorifics based on gender, age, and socio-economic rank.

  • Common Names: Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke, Di, De, Gu, Go, Qu, Qi, Qa

Racial Traits [25 Points]

  • Abilities (0 RP): +2 Int, +2 Con, -2 Str: Tardigrades, though fearsome looking, are not particularly strong, but they are extremely durable and adaptable.
  • Type: Aberration (3 RP): Aberrations have bizarre anatomies, strange abilities, alien mindsets, or any combination of the three. An aberration has the following features.
    • Aberrations have the darkvision 60 feet racial trait.
    • Aberrations breathe, eat, and sleep.
  • Medium Size (0 RP): Tardigrades gain no modifiers based on their size.
  • Standard Speed (0 RP): Tardigrades have a base land speed of 30 feet.
  • Multi-Armed (8 RP): Tardigrades possess four arms. Tardigrades can wield multiple weapons, but only one hand is its primary hand, and all others are off hands. It can also use its hands for other purposes that require free hands.
  • Desert Runner (2 RP): Tardigrades receive a +4 racial bonus on Constitution checks and Fortitude saves to avoid fatigue and exhaustion, as well as any other ill effects from running, forced marches, starvation, thirst, and hot or cold environments.
  • Hold Breath (1 RP): Tardigrades can hold their breath for a number of hours equal to four times their Constitution score before risking drowning or suffocating. They can even withstand the vaccuum of deep space without significant hindrance.
  • Energy Resistance (7 RP): Tardigrades have energy resistance 10 against Cold and FIre based effects.
  • Master Tinker (2 RP): Tardigrades gain a +1 bonus on Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) checks. Members of this race are also treated as proficient with any weapon they have personally crafted.
  • Suspend Life (2 RP): Tardigrades are able to suspend their life functions at will, so as to better withstand the rigors of their environment. A Tardigrade can use Suspend Life on themselves as a psi-like ability at will. While this offers no protection from violent threats, it does allow them to outlive all manner of deprivation.
  • Languages (0 RP): Tardigrades begin speaking both Tardigrade and Common. Tardigrades with high Intelligence scores can choose from Monarus, Aamuh, Catfolk, Mangrove, Spriggan, Colossi, or Penguin as bonus languages.
    Random Starting Ages:
Adulthood Intuitive Self-Taught Trained
11 +1d8 years +2d8 years +3d8 years

Random Height and Weight:

Gender Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight Weight Modifier
Either 3 ft. 0 in. +2d12 in. 60 lbs. +2d12 x 1d6 lbs
3 ft. 2 in. — 5 ft. 0 in. 62 – 204 lbs

Aging Effects:

Race Middle Age Old Venerable Maximum Age
Cumulative Effects –1 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha –2 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha –3 to Str, Dex, and Con; +1 to Int, Wis, and Cha GM secretly determines Maximum
Tardigrade 200 years 300 years 400 years ? years1

1 A tardigrade’s ability to suspend its life functions makes it almost impossible to tell whether a tardigrade has actually died or not. For all anyone knows, even the very first tardigrades might still be alive, buried in the Salt Flats or resting on the bottom of the sea.

Tardigrades

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