Alien: Kafer (True20)

The Kafer

Physical Description


The Kafers are an upright, bipedal, roughly Humanoid creature approximately two meters tall. They have a vaguely insectoid appearance, enhanced by the large carapace on their backs, the bristly, hair‑like projections on their forearms and lower legs, and their vertical lobster-like mouths, which consist of a complicated arrangement of mouthparts between two large, powerful mandibles.

A Kafer’s carapace covers not only the creature’s back, but projects upward to protect the rear of its head as well. The thickness and stiffness of the carapace makes the Kafer’s torso less flexible than a Human’s and gives it a permanent hunched appearance.

Kafer limbs are very similar in shape and function to Human’s. Each Kafer foot and hand ends in three digits; those on their hands are set as mutually opposable thumbs. While Kafer limbs are very powerful, Kafer hands have a much weaker, and less dexterous, grip than do Human hands. Kafer have even been observed doing fine work with some of their very dexterous mouth-parts.

The Kafer’s face has a vertical, slit-like mouth and is also very rigid and nearly inflexible, giving them a static, emotionless expression. What little flexibility they have in their faces is concentrated in the complex mouth parts and mandibles, which as constantly moving and twitching, even when the creature is otherwise still. The small, black eyes are set much like a Human’s, though the heavy, protective brow-ridge almost hides them from view. Their homeworld star is apparently much brighter star than Sol, and as a consequence, Kafers see farther into the violet end of the electromagnetic spectrum and less into the red end than do Humans. They can even perceive the near-ultraviolet, including the lasers used in some Human targeting systems. In dim red light, though, Kafers are nearly blind to anything more than a few meters away.

Kafers are completely hairless except for the bristles on their arms and legs. Coloration among Kafers ranges from reddish brown to an almost charcoal grey. Their skin is very tough, although still pliable. There appears to be some casting behavior associated with color, though sociologists studying them haven’t come up with a definite pattern.

The most important factor in a Kafer’s physiology and psychology is the action of the pseudo-adrenal gland. In response to stress or violence, the pseudo-adrenal gland releases a chemical that boosts the action of the neurotransmitters in the Kafer brain. This has the effect of making them both smarter and faster.

Kafer society is based almost entirely upon two interlinking, driving forces. One is the need to ensure the survival of the species; the other is the love of violence.

Survival of the Species: Kafers are a very rapid breeding, hermaphroditic species. Each Kafer is instinctively driven to breed regularly throughout its adult life, starting from age six. Usually, both partners are fertilized during a tryst. Gestation takes about six
(Earth) months, at which time, a pregnant Kafer will deliver two new Kafer young, each about one-twelfth the size of an adult.

The newborns are able to scramble about on all fours within a few hours of their birth, and can walk upright within about four months. During the first three years of their lives, Kafer young feed on partially digested foods that are regurgitated by their “mother,” who also cares for their safety and teaches them the basics of Kafer culture. Kafers look after their own young only, and typically do not cooperate in the raising of the young. At the end of this period, they will have attained about three-fifths the size of an adult and can expect no more help from “mother.” At this age, Kafers are recruited into training camps where they will learn their adult occupations. Conditions in these camps is rough, and nearly half of the juveniles do not survive.

A Love for Violence: Most Kafers have an intelligence level equivalent to a Human IQ of about 40 (sub-moron), although the occasional exceptional individual approaches Human norms. But intelligence is variable in each Kafer, depending upon its environment. Danger causes a physiological response in them similar to the action of adrenaline in Humans, except that instead of increasing strength, the Kafer response stimulates intelligence and speed. Kafers who are spectators to another’s danger experience this response as well, though at a lower level. Most of the time, the increase is of relatively short duration – once the danger is over, a Kafer grows dull and sluggish again. But its intelligence never quite
falls back to what it was before. In other words, with repeated stimulation, a Kafer’s normal intelligence will see a slowly but steadily rise.

Beginning early in their history, Kafers repeatedly experienced one pattern of events: First, a group of Kafers would begin to develop a localized, permanent, city civilization. One benefit of such a civilization is that life is safer for its members, but for Kafers, this means that there is less stimulus to intelligence. Over and over again, city civilizations would fall before the onrush of nomad barbarians who were smarter, and trickier, because their lives were more dangerous. Eventually, a city civilization was developed in which routine violence was incorporated into the culture. With the pairing of this stimulus to intelligence and the technological developments that only a stable culture could bring, the nomad bands had met their match‑but the “smart barbarian” remains an archetypal figure in Kafer horror stories.

All of this has made Kafers addicted to violence. Violence makes a Kafer more self-aware, makes it feel more alive. It also makes it intelligent enough to realize that a stable society is to be desired – this is what keeps Kafers from killing each other off indiscriminately.

Kafer Racial Traits: A Kafer is generated as a normal character, with the following modifiers: +2 Strength,  +2 Constitution, -4 Intelligence,
-3 Charisma

Carapace Armor: A Kafer’s tough carapace protects its torso as non-rigid armor (+2 to Toughness).

Racial Feats: All Kafers start with the following Feats: Tough and Endurance.

Level Adjustments: Kafers receive +2 level adjustments, due to the powerful nature of their intelligence shifts.

Movement: All Kafers move at 30 ft

Variable Intelligence and Charisma: When a Kafer is aroused (see below) they add +5 to their base intelligence and +3 to their Charisma.

Getting Smart: Combat and violence stimulate a Kafer to greater intelligence. This causes a shift in Intelligence and Role Level. The Intelligence of a “Smart” Kafer can leap by as much as +5 points. When running wild Kafers in combat, use the lower listed intelligence for 1d6 turns, then switch to the greater number. This arousal also causes an emotional rush, as the Kafer feels more alive and aware. This happens even in those who no longer experience Intelligence increases.

BAB and Save Bonus: A Kafer that is Smart gets +2 levels for purposes of BAB and Saves only. A multi-classed Kafer would use the most favorable table.

Skill Bonus: In addition to the intelligence boost, Kafers get a +2 to all skills when “smart”

Feats: Some Feats are only available to Kafers when they get Smart: Lightning Reflexes, Skill Focus (Knowledge – Tactics), Skill Focus (Stealth), Improved Initiative  For every
two character levels, a Kafer can choose one of these Feats as an Extra Feat. This is in addition to the other Feats the Kafer can

Kafers in Combat: When combat occurs, the referee should stress the confused way that Kafers mill about for the first several rounds, their officers prodding and beating them. Once the Kafer intelligence mechanism takes effect, however, the referee should stress the almost supernatural cleverness of the response. Kafers will disappear into any available cover and will use every trick conceivable in counterattacking.


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