'Them'

Part of The Hunger Campaign Setting

So what are they ask? I’m not any kind of xenobiologist or even a biologist. In fact apart from section 6.2 of our science books in our first year at high school my entire biology experience comes down to cutting up bulls eyes in that same year to learn about lenses. I’ll tell you what I know about them though.

The number one thing you need to remember about them is the human you see running, crawling and screaming at you or in extreme circumstances eating you is not a human any more. It’s dead to you even if it doesn’t know it yet. During one of the many exhibitions into uncharted space a ship never returned. They were on a five year mission was to go where no man had gone before and chart the galaxy for future colonisation. Obviously they were on the look out for new lifeforms as well as despite searching for all these years we’ve still never found anything more intelligent than an insect. Anyway after their five years were up all the other ships came back with the exception of this one. Over the years the lost ship passed into legend until a salvage ship came across it deep in space floating apparently without power. The crew were only looking for a new power core but thanks to their unfortunate find they escaped from their frozen tomb. I keep calling them ‘they’ and there is a reason for that. No one knows what to call them. In fact no one really knows what ‘they’ are.

Over the years attacks on ships on the outer reaches of our systems gradually picked up until one day we lost contact with one of the frontier worlds. They had upped their game and what was an unexplained minor annoyance for the salvager’s became a deadly threat for every citizen of the federation. The various worlds fleets have fought running battles with their new foe and still have no idea what is really going on. Some times an abandoned mining ship will float into a planets orbit and when boarded nothing will make it out. Troops will disappear and go MIA if they board the ship and if they are left to themselves the ship will find some way of attacking the planets defences or the planet itself with the ship or it’s armament.

After many battles with the enemy we soon started to identify various differences in the warriors our soldiers were coming across and eventually we managed to take a few of the enemy alive for inspection. Now I have my sources but believe me that what I say should be taken with a pinch of salt. I’ve seen no evidence of any of this and some of my sources I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them but if you ever come across a ship full of these guys you’ll see that it sort of fits. There are huge beasts that can tear you apart with their bare hands and there are tiny sneaky little buggers that will wait until your back is turned and be on you in a flash. It’s as if they have thought of every niche and filled it with something that will eat you. That’s not to say every huge guy is identical and every sneaky wee bugger looks like a zombie ninja, it isn’t a video game after all. That would just be silly. What you have to remember is that every one of these beasts used to be a human being and as with humans everyone is different. They do seem to fall in specific groups though as if their body shape and size determines how their beast mind will function. It’s almost as if they are separate species. Like begets like as they say. I’m sure the scientists have their theories anyway

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Nostalgia or Waste of Shelf Space?

Over the years you accumulate many pads of paper and mountains of loose sheets all with important information on them for your campaigns. For the last eighteen years I’ve been keeping every single ship, vehicle, building and character I’ve ever put down on paper safe in a handful of folders.

drawing board

I say very recently because I got home from work the other day and found a drawing of a light fighter I’d done for one of my first Space Master games sitting on the floor behind my front door with many muddy cat paw prints on it. It’s at this point that your heart starts to race and if you know anything about my health over the last year that’s not a good thing. So I moved further into the house thinking to myself that it was only a drawing and it was done when I was 14 or 15 years old so it was no big deal. It wasn’t as if it was actually any good anyway.

I took one step into my living room and found one of the folders open with almost every page sitting loose on the floor, my almost 3 year old son sitting in the middle with a black marker pen in one hand and a pair of plastic scissors in the other. There were nice pretty stars cut out of some pages and ragged strips torn from others. On some of my drawings lovely wee pictures of fruit and Christmas trees were scrawled and on a few character sheets the only hint of what they used to be was top edge of the sheet where I recorded and rubbed out hit point totals as everything else had been coloured in with the marker.

The crappy drawings I couldn’t actually care about as I’d never use them and apart from a few of the character sheets most of them would never see a game again. There were a handful of character sheets though that I couldn’t bare to lose and thankfully they were in one of the other folders but my favorite drawings were in that pile of torn pages. I had my dune buggy style assault vehicle and my Zzoooomer anti-grav landspeeder frames at one point and hung on my parents wall. That’s how good those drawings were and there they were in pieces on the floor.

My heart almost stopped when I realised this but when I seen the look of joy on my sons face none of it mattered. It only took me a second to realise that everything I had in those folders were replaceable. So what if I never managed to draw them the same way again as in all these years I’ve barely used them after the initial campaign finished. So what if all I have is the memories of those characters who’s sheets were destroyed as they were barely more than postcard style reminder of the games of yesteryear.

We spend years collating and hoarding gaming information and apart from the odd house rule or homebrew system almost all of it is disposable even if we choose to ignore that fact.

Maybe I should go through the rest of my notes and weed out everything that will never be used again and is guilty of just taking up space on my gaming shelf.

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