Few individuals have ever had a chance to meet a Mareen face to face. Instead, they know Mareens as a robotic or cybernetic race that has done its best to meld into humanoid society. For most, a Mareen is simply a walking hunk of lorica. Near the top of its crablike head are two glowing eyes that change colors as the being tries to express thoughts and emotion. Its voice is a stilted mechanical recording. These two inhuman aspects of the Mareen often make it difficult for it to understand and be understood by other races.
Inside the shell suit’s the real Mareen – a fish-like alien of amazing intelligence and technical prowess. The “shell suit” is in face a protective exoskeleton built by Mareens for Mareens. The most typical Mareen exoskeleton has a humanoid shape, but other varieties with different functions are designed in the appropriate form. The humanoid shape is so popular because most members of interstellar society are humanoids and such a shape makes interpersonal interaction easier. The earliest exoskeleton models looked more like Terran fiddler crabs.
Buried deep inside its exoskeleton, a Mareen is a homo-intelligent fish, no bigger than a typical Earth-river catfish. In face, in many ways, the Mareen resembles a catfish: They have long, thick “whiskers” tipped with tiny suckers; heavy bodies with almost undetectable scales; and large, bottom-feeding mouths. But aside from those basic similarities, the Mareens are very different from most other fish. Their whiskers are tentacles, which they use to transmit and receive low-level electrical impulses, as well as manipulate objects. It’s with these impulses chat the Mareen has almost complete control of his exoskeleton. In fact, the exoskeletons are so uniquely attuned to their biology that only Mareens can operate a Mareen exoskeleton.
A Mareen’s only natural defense is its ability to blast out a massive electrical discharge. This electric shock can be used once every five seconds. Thanks to special circuit breakers built into all exoskeletons, the Mareen can discharge the shock through its exoskeleton without damaging it.
Unlike most sentient races, Mareens have no form of verbal communication. Instead, they rely on colorful pulses, which they display on their whiskers, to communicate.
Mareens taken out of water begin to suffocate, as their lungs are not meant to process gases.
March is a planet shrouded with a chide layer of carbon monoxide and ammonia, making it an intolerable climate for most creatures. However, below char deadly layer lies an almost planet-wide ocean that’s teaming with life.
The ocean and the noxious gaseous atmosphere are separated by a floating seaweed jungle that covers most of the water’s surface. The seaweed expels oxygen into the water, which allows Mareens and the multitude of other creatures of March to thrive.
Though most of Mareh is covered with water, mere are hundreds of island chains across the planet. These islands serve the Mareens as bases for interstellar travel, commerce, and temporary off-worlder accommodations. All islands are considered the sole property of the citizens of Mareh.
The polar icecaps of Mareh, with their permanent ice sheets, have been deemed free-enterprise zones, where: off-worlders can settle, conduct business, and maintain permanent domed residences. These areas, d1ough monitored by Mareen authorities, are ruled by the off-worlders as they see fit. These free-enterprise zones have created thriving settlements on both ice caps. The southern ice cap is home to Lexum, a massive space port, often used as a stop-off point for traders. The northern ice cap is populated with scattered smaller cities. Many of these smaller outposts are actually used by smugglers and pirates as a base of operations as they ply their trade.
Despite the “no questions asked” policy offered to these free-enterprise zones, the Marten government is often forced to deal with troublesome individuals and communities. It does so with exoskeleton assault squads. After a few encounters with the assault squads, most off-worlders learn to keep their dealings and activities quiet, using the planet only as their launching point for their business and doing all their shady business somewhere.
With the Mareh solar system in such a central location on the space lanes, most of the system’s 10 planets and dozens of planetoids, moons, and major asteroids have some sort of settlement on them.
Underneath the water of March, the Mareens have a vast civilization. Despite the Mareen’s nomadic nature, most Mareens have settled into small cities, a necessity to ensure growth of Mareens industry and culture. Each city is usually the home to five to 50 ancestral school units.
Cities are interconnected by magnorails. These magnetic towing systems drag magnetic metals back and forth between cities. Exoskeletons and cargo haulers are placed “on line” with special harnesses and dragged at a high rare of speed to the next station on the line.
Though many non-Mareens can’t comprehend what goes on inside a Mareen’s head, most do know one thing about them; Mareens are always attracted to manufactured objects of physical beauty, unique design, and bright colors. While Mareens want objects that work and work well, it’s especially important that those objects look good, too. Social scientists have theorized that the Mareen’s desire to decorate their exoskeletons and their lust for interesting objects is their overzealous way of attempting to fit in with regular society. Others suggest that each Mareen is desperate to be different from his peers, since each Mareen otherwise has no distinctive physical difference.
While material possessions are of great value in the Mareen culture, intelligence and hard work are also prized – just not to the same zeal. Improvements in technology are always lauded by Mareens – but only once the Mareen society figures out how to make it unique to each individual.
With the heavy focus on materialism in Mareen culture, many other races find their manufactured items – full of shell-like spiraling constructions in a spectacular array of colors – t0 be amazingly beautiful. As such, Mareen-built items – ranging from basic tools to furniture to spacecraft – often fetch high prices on the open market.
Mareen culture also highly prizes its coral-growing traditions, and the wealthiest members of the race have fancy coral exoskeletons created for formal occasions. These exoskeletons are built using ancient exoskeleton growing techniques. With their antler-like coral headdresses and intricate scalloped patterns, the coral exoskeletons are among the most magnificent pieces of art to be found in any galaxy.
Despite their high priority placed on materialism, Maree11s tend to be naive in business and social dealings. They often find themselves so awestruck by beaury and charisma that they fall for bad deals or follow inappropriate leaders.
Laws and Customs
Although the Mareen race has moved into mainstream society they tend to have a difficult time relating to other races because their nature is alien to the air-breather-dominated universe.
The primary governing body of the Mareen lifestyle is that of the school – a direct representative government where every individual votes on issues related to that school. Each Mareen usually belongs to half a dozen schools – ones focusing on their community, their ancestry, their profession, and their non work interests. Membership in multiple schools also helps the Mareen feel he is standing out from other individuals. When these schools come into conflict with one another, each Mareen must choose his own path. Mareens hold those who keep the environment clean – both underwater and above – in high regard, and often severely punish those who don’t. Careless mineral extractors and environmental despoilers are always treated harshly by Mareens.
Though they still revere the ancient gods of their ancestry, once the Mareens went into space, they began to worship their system’s stars. 1he star, the name of which commonly translates to Sumareh, is considered to be the fuel of creation in the solar system. All other stars are considered gods as well, though not as significant as Sumareh. They pay homage to their god by creating beautiful objects and dedicating them to Sumareh’s holy energy.
By worshiping a god of creation, warrior Mareens walk a fine line. As they are those who are dedicated to the protection of Mareh, the expansion of the Mareens’ reach in the galaxy or the forceful acquisition of new “beautiful objects,” they struggle as they manage a role that causes destruction. To help counter this negative creation, warrior Mareens usually develop skills in the creative arts to help swing the balance of the destruction-creation cycle back toward creation.
With the Mareen focus on keeping destruction at bay, or even overpowering it, Mareens have codes against killing and doing harm to other living beings. Still, Mareens aren’t pacifists. They are willing to kill, so long as they have good reasons and intend to use the killing to push creation ahead.
A wonder of engineering, the exoskeleton functions almost exactly like a humanoid body, with hand-like mechanisms for grasping and special gyroscopes to keep it balanced while it does any task a person can. The basic exoskeleton package essentially makes a Mareen equal to a Terran in physical stamina – an ability it normally lacks when compared to a Terran. The typical Mareen exoskeleton stands 1.5 meters tall and has two arms and two legs. For identification purposes, each Mareen usually marks its exoskeleton with a unique pattern that includes a name insignia and a specific coloring scheme.
One indicator of a Mareen’s wealth and social status is how “tricked out” its exoskeleton is. Relatively poor Mareens have the basic exoskeleton with a simple one- or two-color identifying scheme. Rich and powerful Mareens often have custom additions to their exoskeleton, such as alternate hand designs (laced with weapons and skill supplements), scholarchip upgrades, and bold, almost flamboyant, multi-colored designs on their extra-protective armor plates.
The Mareen herself is housed inside of a small tank, called the life chamber, inside the exoskeleton. Here, she’s washed with recycled and refreshed water while she operates her exoskeleton. This tank provides the Mareen with an amazing amount of protection. In fact, the Mareen is only injured once her entire suit’s demolished.
Adventuring Mareens often spend their cash on upgrading their exoskeletons with additional and replacement parts that let them excel in combat and other valuable areas of expertise. These upgrades are added on to a Mareen exoskeleton at the same costs as a cybernetic replacement, except the installation is done with the exoskeleton repair skill and there’s no harm done to the Mareen.
The fine engineering precision that goes into making and “tuning” an exoskeleton to its operator means that the user relies on her natural skills, enhanced by the exoskeleton. Mareen only need to make exoskeleton operation: Mareen exoskeleton rolls under extremely harsh circumstances, such as when the Mareen goes from one environment to another or is subjected to a mental attack.
A typical exoskeleton completely encloses the Mareen, but even though he wears a sealed suit, he still shares the many of the same vulnerabilities that most humanoids do. In fact, without the proper upgrades, Mareen exoskeletons aren’t suitable for use in the void of space, since they rely on drawing in oxygen through air filters, which diffuse the oxygen into the Mareen’s water solution inside her life chamber. Luckily, most Mareen exoskeleton fits easily within almost any humanoid- sized spacesuits. (The air-pump system does allow the Mareen exoskeleton to function in the water without any penalties.)
While in her suit, a Mareen sups on a nutritious mash, which she easily refills from stores via a special tube. This nutrient paste is usually a salty mush with a high amount of protein mixed in with a vegetable matter. Outside its exoskeleton and in the water, a Mareen usually eats small fish and plants. Some Mareens with very specific job duties use special vehicles, such as cargo haulers, military vehicles, or space ships instead of suits. These vehicles are meant exclusively to be operated by Mareens, and most humanoids cannot use them, though they can certainly be passengers of such a vehicle, if it has special compartments for them.
Still other Mareens run robotic factories or farms. These highly skilled Mareens have learned to maintain and operate banks of slave-machines, which are assembly line-style manufacturing devices operated directly by a Mareen.
Mareen military assault vehicles are typically called “mechas” by other races. These mechas are giant-sized,semi-humanoid- shaped robots that serve as mobile gun platforms.
Exoskeleton: limited life support; +2D to lifting and running; Armor Value +3D; operator uses own skills; land Move of 10; claw attack with damage +1D; scale value 0; requires external food and oxygen supply to operate life support; only operable by Mareens.
History of the Exoskeleton
Mareens first developed their exoskeleton on their home planet of Mareh. The original exoskeleton started as a coral growth to create a natural suit of armor for protection against predators. The Mareens found that by stimulating a coral formation with their innate electricity projection ability, they could direct the shape of the growth into a plate-like shell. At first, the calcium-ricl1 coral plates were simple body armor, bur the Mareens worked to improve it. After years of experimenting, the Mareens developed two breakthroughs that formed the basis of their current exoskeleton design.
The first breakthrough was that the coral-growing process became so exact char the Mareens were able to create intricately articulated suits. The second breakthrough was in biology. With their electricity, they stimulated the evolution of a new fibrous plant chat, while tough, would move in response to electrical stimulus.
When the two breakthroughs were combined, the Mareens cook a cue from the crab life on their planet and developed specialized exoskeletons that gave them appendages to manipulate objects and legs that anchored them in place when the needed and provided them with locomotion in non-water environments.
With the durability and functionality of their exoskeletons perfected, they ventured out of the ocean, conquered their world, and eventually moved on to space where they have learned to intermingle with the rest of the universe’s inhabit- ants. They’ve since learned about working metals (thanks to their suits and robots), and have added non-rusting metallic parts to their manufacturing processes.
Agility 3D: brawling 3D+l, running: in exoskeleton 3D+1
Mechanical 4D: exoskeleton operation: Mareen exoskeleton 6D, navigation 4D+l, piloting 4D+l, vehicle operation 4D+l
Strength 1D: stamina 3D+2, swimming 4D
Knowledge 30: survival: ocean 4D, willpower 4D+2
Perception 3D: artist 4D+l
Technical 3D: computer interface/repair 3D+l, exoskeleton repair 5D, medicine: mareen 4D+2, robot interface/repair 4D
Strength Damage: 1D
Move: 10 (swimming)
Fate Points: 0
Character Points: 2
Body Points: 13
Wound Levels: 3
Disadvantages: Achilles’ Heel (R3), die if out of water for more than 15 minutes; Advantage Flaw (R1), hand-related activities are impossible when not in suit and without access to special plant fibers; Devotion (R2), to acquiring unique and beautiful objects; Cultural Unfamiliarity (R1), with air-breathing species; Hindrance: Atypical Move (R1), can only swim and jumping is limited when not in exoskeleton; Quirk (R3), must make a Very Difficult Knowledge or willpower roll to overcome fascination with beautiful items – failure indicates that the Mareen is at a disadvantage in interactions until leaving the situation
Advantages: Equipment (R3),exoskeleton (see equipment); Size: Small (R3), scale value 6
Special Abilities: Environmental Resistance (R2), +60 to Strength or stamina in extreme environments; Natural Ranged Weapon: Electric Shock (R1), damage 3D, range 5/10/20, with Restricted (R1), may only be used once per round; Water Breathing (R1)
Equipment; exoskeleton (life support; +2D to lifting and running; Armor Value +3D; operator uses own skills; land Move of 10; claw attack with damage +1D; scale value 0; requires external food and oxygen supply to operate life support; only operable by Mareens)
Total creation cost: receive 2 creation points if using chis species package
Total defined limit cost: receive 2 skill dice if using this species package
Maximums: 2D in Strength and 5D in other attributes.
Disadvantages: Achilles’ Heel (R3), die if out of water for more than 15 minutes; Advantage Flaw (R1), hand-related activities are impossible when not in suit and without access to special plant fibers; Devotion (R2), to acquiring unique and beautiful objects; Hindrance: Atypical Move (R1), can only swim and jumping is limited when not in exoskeleton; Quirk (R3), must make a Very Difficult Knowledge or willpower roil to overcome fascination with beautiful items – failing indicates that the Mareen is at a disadvantage in interactions until leaving the situation
Advantages: Size: Small (R2), scale value 6
Special Abilities: Environmental Resistance (R2, cost 2), +6D to Strength or stamina in extreme environments; Natural Ranged Weapon: Electric Shock (R1, total cost 2), damage 3D, range 5/10/20, with Restricted (R1), may only be used once per round; Water Breathing (R1, cost 2)
Notes: The optional exoskeleton necessary for traveling in space requires the Equipment(R3) Advantage. Cultural Unfamiliarity (R1), with air-breathing species, is a recommended Advantage for Mareens on their first trips into space. Additionally, as they get older, players with Mareen characters may buy off ranks of Size, going from small to large. (These characters will also need to get bigger exoskeletons.) The biggest Mareen known to air-breathers has a scale value of zero, but there may be larger ones who never travel off of the planet.
With its vast utilization of slave-machine production, much of the Mareen population work as manufacturers. As such, the planet has a wide variety of exports available. Two types of exports are available: A utility brand with its rather standard appearance, and a fine brand, which is manufactured to be physically appealing as well.
|Object type||Utility brand cost||Fine brand cost||Notes|
|Security robot||VD (5,400 er)||VD ( 6,400 er) Add unique design and armor plate (Armor Value +1D)||skills: firearms 5D, dodge 6D, intimidation 5D, running 4D. Move: 11. Size: 1.1 meters. Equipment: stun gun in arm (damage 6D stun only; range 5/10/20; shots 20).|
|Servitor robot||VD (4,000 er)||VD (6,000 er) Add unique design and +1D to two skills.||skills: artist: cooking 4D, know-how: housecleaning 6D, languages 30, lift 40, scholar 2D. Move: 10. Size: 1.1 meters. Equipment: deaning supplies and tools stored in various compartments built into body|
|Maintenance robot||VD (4,500 er)||VD (6,500 er) Add unique design and +10 to two skills.||skills: armor repair 3D, flight systems repair 3D, gunnery repair 3D, personal equipment repair 3D, robot interface/repair: damage only 3D, vehicle repair 3D. Move: 8. Size: 1.1 meters. Equipment: various repair and diagnostic tools; repair parts; laser welder (damage 40 if improperly used).|
|Entertainment scholarchips||E (105 er)||VD (1,000 er) Add visual element.||Mareen music (with or without light shows).|
|Security wrench||E (200 er)||VD (l,000 er) Add unique design and additional +1D to security: disable bonus.||+1D to security: disable attempts|
|Retail pricing monitor||E (5,000 er)||VD (7,000 er) Add unique design and additional +1D to bargain bonus.||This device helps calculate the worth of an object. +1D bargain attempts.|
|Furniture||E (500 er)||VD (1,000 er) Add unique design.|
|Trinket||VE (35 er)||E (200 er) Add unique design.|