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Silent Death: TM House

Sithra Haas

By Friedrich Haas

Edited by Russ Miller for The Guild Companion

Copyright 2000

Hi,

The Brood serve as a mechanism to maintain the scale of the game, however it seemed to me that they were not fully fleshed out from the start. To try to explain them in terms of evolutionary pressures seems a twisted task at best. Who evolves for dormancy deep within environmentally poor worlds?

Another way to explain them is that they were created, but for what? They live in what we find to be the most useless of places, which keeps them out of the way. They only come out when there is some huge measure of violence, and then they put it down, and keep it down. To me that says guard dogs!

Now how bad does your existence have to be that you make guard dogs that lay dormant for ages and you spread them throughout a galaxy that you are not even in? That is what I addressed with the Sithra. Every aspect of the Brood is accounted for in the psychology of the Sithra. They value life, so they are not here to wipe humanity out, nor will they allow a species to prosper that is itself callous to life. Neither will they leave a species alone that presents such a challenge. Vigilance is their existence and excellence their armor or they wouldn’t still be around.

So I see them as a way to play the Night Brood just like any house, composing whatever battles one feels like. However, even though they use Brood ships at will, and their own ships are even better, they don’t just overwhelm opponents and blast planets. With them around, the Brood are restrained, and the Sithra only come out in force to match that force which has been placed against them. The contest, not the conquest, is their goal

Friedrich Haas

1.0 Introduction

"What chance has made yours is not really yours."

-Lucilius

PreImp

"Yesterday this godawful huge ship folded out of space in the Imperial core. Today every Clutchworld knows about it, and tomorrow? We may not want to know tomorrow."

-Initial News Report

13AL

1.1 How to Use Them

After the activity associated with the introduction of the Night Brood they became a quiescent force that would respond to the violence of excessive conflict. This is useful to maintain the balance of the Silent Death Universe, but a difficult scenario to maintain for someone wishing to be a dedicated player of the Night Brood forces, much as one may favor playing one of the houses.

The Universal Night Watch supplement allowed for more constant play of the Hatchlings. However, they were still not initiating, but resisting the Night Watch’s attempts at payback.

Now with the Sithra there comes an understanding of the Hatchlings behavior. There is a command structure whose nature will remain consistent with the game mechanics, but inclusive of a free will that will allow a dedicated player of the Sithra/Night Brood to respond to or initiate conflicts. There are more alien ships to pit against the great variety of human designs, and an opportunity to refit older Grub designs if needed.

The Sithra/Night Brood are as much a presence as any House and they are here to stay.

1.2 History

The Sithra are an ancient race, one of the few survivors from the time when consciousness first came to the galaxy. That struggle and that success has made them into what they are now.

When you can get beyond them as Reavers of the galaxy, and as merciless decimators of untold numbers of civilizations. Once you can stand up to them and beside them, then that is when you will get to know them as a people. Then you will be invited to hear the Life Songs.

In a three to six-day ritual of feast and endurance, the Sithra sing the stories of their race. They drink Qua-vaa-k, a thick green liquor that travels slowly down the throat, and eat of fresh kills dipped in fiery spices. So fortified they can sing without rest, either alone or in a group. The seamless weaving in and out of participants indicates a mental communication or directions delivered amongst themselves by sounds imperceptible to human ears.

In their Life Songs they tell of how they were among the least of the first. They were a proud race, just leaving their solar system, when the Builders came and added them to their slave populations.

The Sithra were used to fight wars for the Builders. They mastered war and the discipline of sacrifice. The Sithra slew all comers, until they faced the Night Brood. These were not the hatchlings that humanity knows now, but a fully realized race. An arrogant race that believed they were the first sentient race in the universe.

The Hatchlings nearly drove the Builders and their slave races to extinction. It pleased the Grubs to lay the Builders low and enslave them by altering their biology. The Builders became a totally dependent and subservient species. The Sithra however were unnecessary, and to be exterminated.

When the control of the Builders was broken, the devastated military units of the Sithra fled. Their home system was long lost to them and the Grubs were in pursuit. Only an extremely costly rear guard action saved the Sithra from oblivion.

What followed was a millennium where the Sithra had only a roaming military existence. In some cases they paved the way for the Hatchlings by falling upon a newly encountered civilization, reaping sustenance and technology, and escaping barely ahead of their Grub pursuers. In other cases there was time to warn and prepare a common defense, however inadequate it would be against the Grubs assault.

Over their long exodus, the Sithra had learned secrets of the Night Brood, but they didn’t have the infrastructure to exploit them. Their cobbled together fleet of Builder and other race designs was barely sustaining their hit and run existence. It was only a matter of time before they would encounter a race that could properly exploit their knowledge and turn the tide.

This is when the Sithra pause in their song. These are the people who are not named in their own name. The Sithra call them the Keth-e-chk, a name combining the meanings of unforgiven and extinct.

The Night Brood were halted, and eventually pushed back. Keth-e-chk science, along with the Sithra’s, gathered intelligence on the Hatchlings. This intelligence allowed their science the ability to alter the Hatchlings to a point where they could be used against other Hatchlings. This new strain was left to supplant the old. Initially, the Sithra led this counter-assault, until the Keth-e-chk turned on the Sithra.

The Song of the Traitor War is both frightening and compelling. The floor of the chamber begins to vibrate as Sithra lungs boom like drums. They keen for the death of suns, and of worlds burned free of life. This holocaust re-forged the Sithra soul.

1.3 The Sithra Today

Biologically, the Sithra are an amalgam of aspects that we are familiar with. To look at them they are humanoid, with a smooth mammalian skin. The quill-like crests are the only reference to hair and their face has distinctly reptilian overtones to some individuals. The Sithra resemble an evolved type of saurian.

Their society, in contrast to their appearance, seems quite insect-like. An Over-Queen lays a small clutch of eggs. She then nurses these eggs into hatchlings, which under her care, develop into Queens or Kings. It is the Queens who then breed the warriors, which are the bulk of Sithra society.

When a clutch of Kings is laid, they grow up to contest with the Over-King. The victor becomes the new Over-King and the rest disperse to unmatched Queens.

If the old Over-King is not killed in this challenge, he is healed, as best he can be, and provided with a special fighter for a single mission. The "Challenge" fighter is a powerful SMAC that the exiled Over-King uses to seek a glorious death.

The Sithra are entirely nomadic. Their self-contained Home-ships roam the former territory of the Night Brood, harvesting the raw materials that they need from whatever they come upon as dead matter. They leave habitable worlds alone, never tempting themselves with a settled existence and with territory that must be defended. Their bloodline is the only thing worth protecting. As masters of the Night Brood, they have altered their former adversaries to this purpose.

Clutchworlds are among the most desolate to be found, the least likely to generate new life. The Hatchlings sleep deep within them, drawing little in the way of resources and betraying no presence. If life arises peacefully in that solar system, then it is allowed to exist.

However, if a contentious, war-like species reveals itself to the slumbering Grubs, by the intensity of their vehemence, then they are put down. A warning then goes out to the Sithra about the potential threat and the possible challenge, represented by this new species. The hateful nature of the Hatchlings is used to keep the new threat to a manageable level until the Sithra can arrive to assess it for themselves.

Not only do the Sithra never want to be caught unawares by a new violent species, but also they require them as an opportunity to keep themselves strong. They have the technology to remove labor from their society, but disdain its use as a path to extinction. They also have the technology to arm the brood such that they could obliterate any new threat, but the Sithra will never, even in their present condition, trust the Grubs with better armaments. They could easily extinguish those new sparks themselves, but that would betray themselves on two levels. Not only would they become what they hate, but also they would deny themselves the very struggle that keeps them vital.

The Sithra use alien races to hone their own battlefield skills. The Night Brood sternly guards their back across the galaxy, with the Sithra never fully trusting them. The aliens must never get to where they are the wasters of worlds, and the Sithra must never get to complacency. They keep their technology superior and their bloodline strong.

The Over-Queen

The Over-Queen starts out as a normal Queen. The approaching, or sudden, death of the old Over-Queen brings a change upon the pecking order of the Queens, with an alpha emerging. She begins to transform in a matter of days and is moved to the Over-Queens quarters, the most secure place in a Sithra Home-ship. Once in the Over-Queens quarters she will be unable to leave.

Her physiology alters to greatly increase egg production, with a concomitant increase of mass and structure.

Her consort remains with her at all times until he is challenged.

Queens

Queens are numerous and manage the society, taking direction from the Over-Queen. They are individuals with their own ideas and initiative, altering their duties and pecking order according to their successes and failures.

Kings

Aside from their place as consort, the Kings manage the military structure and training of the Warriors. They are the elite of the Warrior class.

Warriors

The bulk of Sithra society are the warriors, but they do not all function in the military on a continual basis. They will all cycle out of active duty at some time. Those with a greater aptitude for combat will cycle out less frequently than others. Amongst the warriors are also the scientists, engineers, traders, and artists. They are individuals joined in a common purpose, reinforced by the Life-Songs.

2.0 Sithra Starfighters

The Sithra use the same technology as the Night Brood, but the Sithra’s have some advancements that give them an edge in performance and weaponry. These craft are a blending of the efforts of the ancient races with the basic technology of the original Hatchlings and tested over the millenia against a host of races.

Against a strong opponent, the Grubs can develop new designs to meet the immediate threat. The Sithra require them to maintain the situation and to provide the bulk of their forces. It would not serve the purpose of the Sithra to have Grubs wipe out the enemy before the Sithra could arrive at the battle. The Grubs activity is monitored and the Grubs are totally subservient to the Sithra, as are all the Hatchling forces and Clutchworlds.

At first inspection, Sithra starcraft will seem to be indistinguishable from their Grub underlings. They may even be nearly the same craft, with a notable difference of an obvious cockpit.

Whereas a Hatchling pilot grows into an integral aspect of their starcraft, a Sithra pilot may enter and leave their vessel. Their interface system provides them with the same kind of "living control" as a Grub starcraft, without slaving the pilot to the ship. This was the original Night Brood control system, but when the Sithra subjugated their former masters, they elected not to allow them this measure of freedom and survivability.

The Sithra control interface is successful where Operation Borg failed, and is extremely coveted by Terran scientists. They continuously pressure the military to recover an intact example of a Sithra craft, an effort that the Sithra have undoubtedly encountered many times before. As a countermeasure the ship will die, with either the death of its pilot, or on command. The command can be made whether the pilot is in the ship or outside the ship. The death of the ship causes the control systems to narcotize immediately, followed by the weapon systems and so on. No back engineering is possible with the "rotting corpse" of a Sithra starcraft. The attempt to recover a Sithra vessel is so unpleasant, pointless, and costly in squandered ships and crews, that the idea is officially shelved to prevent mutiny.

Another aspect of the Sithra starfighters is that they are not numerous. They act as squadron leaders in some cases, with the Grubs as their bulk forces, even over Grub craft of greater tonnage. At other times a Sithra may hold back until a suitable opponent has been singled out for individual combat. The relative scarcity of Sithra craft does not allow for the presence of "rookie" pilots or crews. The Sithra are not fighting for their immediate survival or territory, so they have no need to throw everyone into the fray. They are here to test their best, and to that end a Sithra pilot may be heedless of their own safety or survival. Indeed, knowing how many they can take down with them may be the sole purpose of a mission. Warriors below a skill level of 5 do not achieve assignments outside of the Home-ship.

2.1 Sithra Technology

"Are they doing that? They can’t be doing that! Can they?"

-Unknown Fighter Pilot - Deceased

TEAR BEAM –{ "Eye of Eternity"}

This is the fold space transport technology adapted to a weapon system. The Tear beam temporarily displaces matter from this dimension, without a movement component, effectively tearing a chunk out of a starcraft. It ignores damage reduction and leaves that piece right where it was hit. A moving starcraft, hit by multiple Tear beams, seems to be falling apart like an old clunker, at least for that moment before it blows apart.

The standard Tear beam is known as the Lesser Eye and is not mounted on the smaller fighters. The more impressive Tear beam is known as the Greater Eye and is only found on MPAC’s.

DRONE PROJECTORS

The Sithra not only lay drones behind them as their Grub forces do, but they have a projector that can launch drones straight out from whatever side the projector is mounted on. One drone may be projected out per hex moved and is immediately placed in position. It operates as a normal drone.

The standard projector will place a drone 4 hexes out. The next version will project it 6 hexes out.

SITHRA STARCRAFT TYPE

S-1367f { FLEA }

Maneuver Thrust : 0.171 km/s/s
Jump Pods : 2 fair, 2 good
Special Equipment : none
Armaments:
        1 x X-beam w/ink
        Dispenser ( 3 canisters )
        4 x type 1 drones

The Flea is the most numerous of the Sithra starcraft encountered. Their initial numbers reflected an eagerness on the part of the Sithra to experience their latest opponent first hand.

A fast and nimble light fighter, they mix it up with their opponents very aggressively, to devastating effect. The battlefield can become littered with randomly laid drones, while the Fleas pop in from anywhere, switching off targets to best advantage. Survivors of such chaotic encounters earn the nickname of "four-eyes", for the two they must have had in the back of their head to get out alive.

SITHRA STARCRAFT TYPE

S-1307c { CRAB }

Maneuver Thrust : 0.181 km/s/s
Jump Pods : 2 fair, 2 good
Special Equipment : 1 x drone launcher 4
1 x drone mover 2
Armaments :
        1 x X beam
        1 x X beam w/ink
        Dispenser ( 5 canisters )
        4 x type 1 drones
        4 x type 2 drones

This Sithra medium fighter provided the first weapon surprise with its Drone Projector. After a first pass, laid drones would cover a Grubs rear and complicate the battle zone. The Crabs drone launcher could now blunt a frontal assault and disrupt formations into the individual combats favored by the Sithra.

With its high speed, good jump pods, and Drone Projector, the "Crab" is like a wolf scattering a herd of sheep.

SITHRA STARCRAFT TYPE

S-0409t { TICK }

Maneuver Thrust : 0.161 km/s/s
Jump Pods : 2 poor, 2 fair, 2 good
Special Equipment : Drone Mover 2
Armaments :
        1 x Y-beam
        1 x X-beam w/ink 360
        Dispenser ( 3 canisters )
        1 x drone launcher

Somewhat slower than the Crab, the Tick is tougher and just as maneuverable.

SITHRA STARCRAFT TYPE

S-0666l { LEVIATHAN }

A truly massive vessel, the Sithra Home-ship has been unapproachable since its arrival in the Imperial core. Any attempts to get near are met with an unassailable response in enemy craft. No missions have returned.

The Sithra will broach no attempt to bring the battle to them. The character of their species could not allow it.

Sample Scenarios

"There is nothing so fragile as civilization, and no high civilization has long withstood the manifold risks it is exposed to."

--Havelock Ellis

PreImp

"Guns will make us powerful, butter will only make us fat."

Field Marshal

Hermann Goering

PreImp

All of the scenarios in this section use ships from Silent Death: The Next Millenium, Night Brood: First Contact, Universal Night Watch, and the Sithra.

The standard scenarios primarily use the basic rules, and the advanced scenarios incorporate optional rules. The scenarios depict a chronological order of Sithra operations.

Scenario 1 : Killer Fleas

"The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."

--R.G.Ingersol

PreImp

DATE: AL

LOCATION: Outer fringes of theformer Imperial Core

SITUATION: This scenario represents the Terrans first probe of the Imperial Core after learning of the arrival of the Sithra Homeship. As the Terran forceapproaches, they encounter Grub ships. As they are dispatching these, they are set upon by the Sithra.

FORCES:

Elements of Task Force Intruder

Setup first, within 3 hexes of Edge 1.

Salamander A Pilot (Plt6,Gnr6)
 Gunner A (Gnr8)
Salamander B Pilot (Plt5,Gnr8)
 Gunner B (Gnr7)
Pit Viper A Pilot(Plt8,Gnr8)
Pit Viper B Pilot(Plt6,Gnr5)
Pit Viper C Pilot(Plt3,Gnr6)
Pit Viper D Pilot(Plt3,Gnr3)
Pit Viper E Pilot(Plt2,Gnr4)
Pit Viper F Pilot(Plt1,Gnr3)

Elements of Marathon III Swarm

Setup second, within 3 hexes of Edge 3.

Remora A Pilot(Plt7)
 Weapon A (Gnr6)
 Weapon B (Gnr5)
Larva A Pilot(Plt4,Gnr5)
Larva B Pilot(Plt3,Gnr4)
Larva C Pilot(Plt3,Gnr2)
Larva D Pilot(Plt2,Gnr3)

Elements of Eager Hunger Squadron

Setup after 3 rounds, within 3 hexes of edge 3.

Flea A Pilot(Plt8,Gnr9)
Flea B Pilot(Plt7,Gnr7)
Flea C Pilot(Plt6,Gnr5)
Flea D Pilot(Plt5,Gnr5)

Special Rules:

  1. Use the Long Map Setup.
  2. Grubs may not use jump pods on Turn 1.

Victory Conditions:

Task force Intruder must attempt to destroy the Grubs to maintain the secrecy of their approach. After the Sithra enter, they remain another 2 rounds, and then attempt to get a ship off of Map Edge 1. Only one Sithra attacks a Terran ship at a time, irregardless of how many Grubs may be engaged with that Terran ship.

The Terrans win if they can get at least one Salamander back off of the map. It is a draw if they only get a Pit Viper back off.

Battlefield Report:

Task Force Intruder had nearly eliminated the Grubs that they came upon on their mission to investigate the Sithra Home-ship. However, the Sithra discovered them themselves. The battle went badly and they attempted to get out with the little intelligence that they had gathered about the new ships.

The Terran survivors are nicknamed "four-eyes" after their debriefing.

Plans are made for another attempt at reconnaissance of the new aliens.

Scenario 2 : Pay the Fiddler

"Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest."

--BION

PreImp

DATE: AL

LOCATION:

SITUATION: The new ships were almost identical to Grub vessels. So it wasn’t known whether they were a new Grub design, or if the new aliens were close allies of the Hatchlings. In either case, The UNW would be making the second incursion.

Forces:

Elements of Swarm Beta-4

Setup first, 3 to 5 hexes from Map Edge 3.

Squidge A Pilot(Plt6)
 Weapon A (Gnr7)
 Weapon B (Gnr6)
Larva A Pilot(Plt6,Gnr7)
Larva B Pilot(Plt6,Gnr5)
Larva C Pilot(Plt4,Gnr3)
Larva D Pilot(Plt2,Gnr2)

Elements of Task Force Intruder

Setup second, within 3 hexes of Map Edge 1.

Hornet 1 NW Pilot(Plt7,Gnr8)
Nighthawk NW Pilot(Plt7,Gnr6)
T-Bird NW A Pilot(Plt6,Gnr7)
T-Bird NW B Pilot(plt5,Gnr4)
Pit Viper A Pilot(Plt8,Gnr8)
Pit Viper B Pilot(Plt6,Gnr5)
Pit Viper C Pilot(Plt4,Gnr5)
Pit Viper D Pilot(Plt4,Gnr3)

Elements of Rending Claw Squadron

Setup after 2 rounds, within 3 hexes of Map Edge 3.

Larva A Pilot(Plt5,Gnr7)
Larva B Pilot(Plt4,Gnr6)
Larva C Pilot(Plt3,Gnr4)
Larva D Pilot(Plt3,Gnr3)
Vartak A Pilot(Plt4)
 Weapon A (Gnr5)
 Weapon B (Gnr5)
Flea A Pilot(Plt7,Gnr8)
Flea B Pilot(Plt6,Gnr6)
Flea C Pilot(Plt5,Gnr6)
Crab A Pilot(Plt9,Gnr8)
Crab B Pilot(Plt7,Gnr7)

Special Rules:

  1. Grubs of Swarm Beta-4 may not use jump pods on the first turn.

Victory Conditions:

After 2 rounds with the Sithra, the Terrans need to get the Hornet back off of Map Edge 1 for victory. Without the Hornet, any other Terran ship exiting Map Edge 1 will provide a draw.

Battlefield Report:

The patrols are too heavy for a small force to penetrate, however the intelligence gathered from this skirmish indicate that the new ships fighting with the Grubs, while quite similar to Grub ships, have distinctive characteristics, and likely are the new aliens. The mission created more questions then answers, and the answers are becoming critical. For now, the Grubs allies are content with the former Imperial Core, but if they should decide to break out before the Terrans have a strategy to counter them?

Scenario 3 : Tick Tok

"A stout man’s heart breaks bad luck."

--Cervantes

PreImp

DATE: AL

LOCATION: On the border of the Unkulunkulu Archipelago.

SITUATION: After two disastrous incursions, the Terrans were taking some time to evaluate their data and plan their next action, but as feared, the enemy wasn’t going to voluntarily stay bottled up long. A stand had to be made, before they came busting out all over.

Forces:

Elements of Voodoo Squadron

Setup first, within 3 hexes of Map Edge 1.

Nighthawk NW APilot(Plt7,Gnr8)
Nighthawk NW B Pilot(Plt7,Gnr5)
Nighthawk NW C Pilot(Plt5,Gnr6)
Nighthawk NW D Pilot(Plt4,Gnr3)

Elements of Deep Bite Squadron

Setup second, within 3 hexes of Map Edge 3.

Thistle A Pilot(Plt5)
 Weapon A (Gnr4)
 Weapon B (Gnr6)
Thistle B Pilot(Plt5)
 Weapon A (Gnr5)
 Weapon B (Gnr5)
Thistle C Pilot(Plt4)
 Weapon A (Gnr5)
 Weapon B (Gnr3)
Thistle D Pilot(Plt3)
 Weapon A (Gnr4)
 Weapon B (Gnr5)
Shaggai A Pilot(Plt4)
 Weapon A (Gnr7)
 Weapon B (Gnr3)
Shaggai B Pilot(Plt3)
 Weapon A (Gnr4)
 Weapon B (Gnr4)
Vartak A Pilot(Plt4)
 Weapon A (Gnr5)
 Weapon B (Gnr3)
Tick A Pilot(Plt8)
 Weapon A (Gnr7)
 Weapon B (Gnr6)
Tick B Pilot(Ply7)
 Weapon A (Gnr6)
 Weapon B (Gnr6)
Tick C Pilot(Plt6)
 Weapon A (Gnr6)
 Weapon B (Gnr5)

Elements of Black Magic Squadron

Setup after 2 turns, within 2 hexes of Map Edge 1.

Mantis A Pilot(Plt9,Gnr6)
 Gunner A (Gnr8)
 Gunner B (Gnr7)
Mantis B Pilot(Plt7,Gnr5)
 Gunner A (Gnr6)
 Gunner B (Gnr7)
Javelin A Pilot(Plt6,Gnr5)
 Gunner A (Gnr7)
 Gunner B (Gnr10)
Rattler A Pilot(Plt6,Gnr4)
 Gunner A (Gnr7)
Teal Hawk NW Pilot(Plt5,Gnr7)
 Copilot(Plt4,Gnr8)
Dart A Pilot(Plt10,Gnr9)
Dart B Pilot(Plt8,Gnr7)
Dart C Pilot(Plt7,Gnr5)
Dart D Pilot(Plt5,Gnr7)

Special Rules:

  1. All of the Terran ships move prior to any Grubs for the first turn. The Sithra do not move the first turn.
  2. When a Tick A is destroyed, the Grub ships lose 5 drive for their next movement only.

Victory Conditions:

After 10 game turns, if the Grub/Sithra have been destroyed, the Terrans win. If Grubs remain, but the Sithra are destroyed, it is a draw. Anything else is a loss for the Terrans.

Battlefield Report:

The surprised Nighthawks were nearly wiped out before reinforcements could arrive. Thereafter was a hard fought battle against the Grubs and another new alien ship. With severe determination these new ships were destroyed. As they were being eliminated, they communicated with the Terran ships, and a name may have finally been put on the aliens, the name of Sithra.

A crucial detail was observed that after a particular Sithra ship was destroyed, the Grub ships were sluggish. It is theorized that this was the result of a loss of command. This bit of demoralized behavior could be capitalized upon and provide a critical battlefield edge.

Editor's Note

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