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Bestiary Submit your favorite original creatures for others to use in their own Traveller campaigns.

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Old April 30th, 2017, 07:38 PM
Keklas Rekobah Keklas Rekobah is offline
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Default Tesserats

After a four-year absence, I stumbled upon Sabredog's "Jump Rat" thread, and was reminded of a similar creature I had developed for my Traveller:SGC campaign. This creature is the 'Tesserat', of which no live specimens have ever been collected, and which has achieved near-mythical status similar to the Gremlins of Terra's WWII period. Here is the full description.

TESSERAT

"Nindal, comma looka this."

"Sure ... whussup?"

"Sumpins got inna the stores and et up alla coffeeberries!"

"Izzat so?"

"Yep! Annay took alla wrappers withim too!"

"Know what that means, don't you?"

"Uh-uh ... wutt?"

"Tesserats!"

"Fnord have mercy!

"Aye ... you set the traps, I'll go tell the Cap'n...

...

Tesserats. The name strikes terror into the hearts of spacers everywhere. Well, maybe not terror, per se, but a kind of dread from knowing that sometime in the very near future, the ship must be quarantined, evacuated and decontaminated. The cost of all this could equal that of a yearly overhaul, since the entire vessel must be exposed to the vacuum of space and irradiated to eliminate all traces of this vermin. Then the ship must remain in an evacuated state for no less than 90 standard days, during which time no other ship may approach within 100km.

Taxonomy

Environ: Terran
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Sub-Order: Psionica

No. Appearing: 1D
Attack: Bite, as Dagger-1
Damage: 1D-1

Mass: ~0.5kg (Adult)
Hits: 2/0
Armor: None
Weapons: Teeth
Attack: If Cornered
Flee: If Possible
Speed: 1 (Run/Scurry) / ~Infinite (Teleport)

Appearance: Generally rodent-like, characterized by robust bodies, short limbs, long tails, and a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. Fur tends to be short, exhibiting drab dorsal coloration of dark browns and greys, with lighter shades ventrally.

Behavior: Tesserats will seek nesting sites near sources of food and water. Because their incisors do not stop growing, the animal must continue to wear them down by gnawing so that they do not reach and pierce the skull. As the incisors grind against each other, the softer dentine on the rear of the teeth wears away, leaving the sharp enamel edge shaped like the blade of a chisel. Tesserats will gnaw anything available -- wood, soft stone and concrete, metal, insulation, plastic, et cetera -- which presents no problem in the wild, but could be disatrous on board a space-going vessel.

According to alleged "witnesses", tesserats seem to know when someone is approaching, and will teleport away before they can be caught (or even seen). They can also teleport into a baited trap, and then teleport away with the bait -- usually without setting off the trap.

The origins of the Tesserat are unknown. Several legends exist, however, including one that claims that a breeding pair "somehow" escaped from an Imperial research station during the Psionic Suppressions. The researchers were allegedly working on a means to induce and study psionic abilities in mammals, and that the lab-rats had simply teleported from their cages. Official denials serve only to reinforce the idea that a government cover-up is somehow involved.

Regardless of their origins, the Tesserats have supposedly spread across all of Known Space. The first evidence for their presence is that a spacer will discover that a few delicacies will be missing from the ship's galley. The wrappers will also be missing, presumable to line the Tesserat's nest. Eventually, small shiny objects will also disappear. It's when systems start failing that things get really dicey. Investigation will find missing insulation, corroded contacts, broken wires, leaky plumbing and other faults that could be passed off as poor maintenance, were it not for scratches (claws?), nicks (teeth?), and missing components (especially the shiny ones).

Yet, in all the time since the Suppressions, not one single live specimen has ever been presented all have been dead, or their ability to teleport has somehow been lost. Either way, the presence of a single tesserat is sufficient cause for full quarantine of the entire vessel and its cargo, as even a single ordinary rat could wreak havoc with any ecology that does not have them already, owing to the proliferate reproductive rate inherent in all rodents.

But do Tesserats really exist? Until a live specimen is captured and held for study, we may never know ...

(Note: The name 'Tesserat' is a portmanteau of 'Tesseract' and 'Rat', and alludes to the alleged ability of these rodents to teleport at will over short distances. No living specimin has ever been captured; and while many doubt their existence, authorites would rather err on the side of caution than allow this "scourge of the Spaceways" to get loose and wreak havoc among delicate ecologies.)
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