We’ve discussed two alien species so far for Dark Horizon: the Jurganna and the dupalans. Both of these are strange and unfamiliar creatures, though their motivations and cultures might have familiar aspects. Now let’s flip things and look at humans, a species we all know pretty well but which sees the galaxy in a very strange way…
Once it seemed like humans were the center of the universe, but now they are a tiny part of something much bigger. This is the story of most species’ first steps outside their home system, of course, but humans have had only a few hundred years to get used to it. There are still humans alive whose great grandparents had never heard of alien species and the other species around humans have been zipping around the galaxy for millennia. Many human philosophers talk about a species-wide inferiority complex, pointing to the common imagery of Earth and the Sol system as a run-down backwater filled with cobwebs and dust. This isn’t the real situation, of course, but the majority of humans in the galaxy at this point have never been to Earth and don’t see why they should look to the past rather than the future.
Even if Earth is commonly seen as past its prime, humans don’t see themselves that way. They are the underdogs and on the back foot, but who doesn’t like to root for an underdog? They see themselves as the future heirs of the growing wormhole network as species like the Jurganna and tivanni succumb to inertia and snuff out. This is an incredibly long-term view but one thing that humans have had to learn is seeing in light years and thinking in centuries. They are a species in flux with a lot to prove and nowhere to go but up. This is an encouraging thought for most humans and a concerning one for more established species.
Most other species regard humans as curiously fragile. They are smaller than Jurgann or tivanni but less flexible and adaptable than grups or dupalans. They do have a resilient biology, though, which meshes well with other species’ implants and therapies. Like humans themselves, human physiology seems eager to prove that it deserves a spot in the galactic community. Already, humans have adapted in radiating patterns from their appearance two centuries ago and you are just as likely to encounter a purple-skinned, four-armed human with slitted eyes as a “baseline” body.
The best way to describe the collective psychology of humans in the collected galaxy, it’s eagerness. They are eager to find their place in the galaxy, eager to prove that they’re the equals of other species, eager to break out on their own, and eager to recreate themselves. Not every human thinks the same as others, in fact there are a number of different factions currently vying for power among the human diaspora. However, they are a minor species numerically and politically so they have a lot to prove in the eyes of long-standing species.
Play a Human if You Want to…
- be something familiar in an unfamiliar setting and explore humanity in the future.
- be a member of a scrappy, survival-minded species with hidden tricks and lots of adaptability.
- have natural abilities for adjusting tech and bluffing your way through the galaxy.
Human Species Abilities
Tier One Human Abilities
- A Friendly Face (1 Intellect point): When meeting another human, you know just what to say to remind them of home and put them at their ease. The difficulty of all positive social interactions with this person is decreased by one step for the next six hours. Action to initiate.
- Something to Prove (1 Intellect point): The rest of the galaxy sees humans as children, fresh out of their single star system with little to contribute to the greater society. You try to challenge that as often as you can and sometimes even surprise yourself with what you know. By spending a point of Intellect after failing on a task related to knowledge about politics, astrogeography, or xenobiology you can reroll the check as part of the same action. You must take the second result even if it is worse. Enabler.
- Versatile Skillset: Humans need to find work where they can and you have a surprising breadth of experience. At the beginning of each day when you wake up, choose one task (other than attacks or defense) on which you will concentrate that day. For the rest of the day, you are trained in that task. You can’t use this ability with a task you are already trained or specialized in. Enabler.
Tier Two Human Abilities
- I Know a Guy: You have a contact who can get you products cheaply thanks to your grey market connections. You and the GM should work on the details but this person can provide you with discounted equipment (including tech and computer programs), a place to lie low, or whatever else is appropriate. Such people also usually have at least one piece of useful rumor about the system they live in. You can choose this ability multiple times, gaining a new contact each time.
- Must Be a Human Thing (2 Intellect points): You know how to play up your species exotic reputation to help you confuse non-humans. This provides an asset on a task related to deception, fast-talk, avoiding attention, or otherwise fooling someone. It will not work against other humans. Enabler.
- Outsider Insight (2 Intellect points): Humans are used to thinking out of the box and you get strange, outsider perspectives without even trying. You can gain an insight (see pages 216-217 of the Cypher System Rulebook) for 2 Intellect points instead of 3 points and you don’t need to spend an action to gain it. This insight will be something that most people wouldn’t think of, such as breaking a cultural norm or using an unconventional computer exploit. If you use XP to gain the insight it functions normally. Enabler.
Tier Three Human Abilities
- Jam Technology (4 Intellect points): Humans might not be at the cutting edge of technology in the connected galaxy but they sure know how to mess technology up. You immediately end one ongoing effect of technology within immediate range or you can use this as a defensive action to cancel an incoming hacking attempt. Additionally, you can turn off a technological cypher or artifact for 1d6 rounds by touching the device. Action.
- Masterful Skillset: You know how to stand out from the crowd even when you are just winging it. At the beginning of each day when you wake up, choose one task (other than attacks or defense) in which you are already trained. This can be the skill you chose with Versatile Skillset if you have that ability. For the rest of the day, you are specialized in that task. You can’t use this with an ability you are already specialized in. Enabler.
- New Horizons: You have adapted to life among other species by gathering up useful information about them. You choose four new skills to be trained in each focused on a particular species or culture. Each skill will be from the following list, with a species or culture provided in each case: cultural norms, cultural politics, species customs, or species history. For example, you could pick Jurgann species customs, Trakherium cultural politics, ISC cultural politics, and ISC cultural norms. You can select this ability multiple times, each time gaining a new set of four skills. Enabler.
Tier Four Human Abilities
- Scrappy: Humans have a well-earned reputation for being survivors in a galaxy seemingly stacked against them. You are no exception to this and gain +1 to Armor when not wearing any armor. Enabler.
- Something to Prove: You increase your Intellect Edge, Might Edge, and Speed Edge by +1. Enabler.
- Technology Adapter (2 Intellect points): Humans are in the minority, which means they frequently have to use equipment made for other species. You know how to adjust these devices, though, allowing you to change the species tag for a piece of equipment. The level of this Intellect action depends on how similar the original species is to the intended species and the complexity of the device. Action to initiate; process takes four hours.
Tier Five Human Abilities
- Keep Fighting (3 Might points): When you would be dazed or stunned by an attack (see Cypher System Rulebook, p. 203) you can delay the effect for a number of rounds equal to your Might Edge. After this delay, you will be dazed or stunned as before; you cannot use this ability twice on the same effect, though you can delay other daze or stun effects with a second use. Enabler.
- Survivor: Choose one type of defense task in which you are trained: Might, Speed, or Intellect. You are specialized in defense tasks of that type. You can select this ability up to three times, each time selecting a different defense task. Enabler.
- Voice of Optimism (5 Intellect points): Being new to the galactic scene, humans sometimes are the most optimistic people around with words that can bolster their crewmates in times of crisis. A target who can hear and understand you (whether in person or over comms) is encouraged by what you have to say. The difficulty of the next action she takes is decreased by two steps. Action.
Tier Six Human Abilities
- Desperate Times (8 Speed points): You can take an additional action in a round in which you have already acted. Enabler.
- Cannibalize Tech: Living on the edge means that you know the benefit of longevity over convenience. When you use this ability you choose a technology cypher you have whose effect is not instantaneous: the cypher is destroyed and you permanently gain the cypher’s abilities through cybernetic augmentation, orgatech implants, a grafted device, etc. You cannot give the cypher to anyone else or copy the technology; it is a one-time feat of tech magic that is half art and half science. This ability works once for a single cypher, although you don’t have to use it immediately when you gain it. Action to initiate; process takes four hours.
- Keep Moving: Every time you succeed at a Speed defense task, you can immediately move up to a short range away. If you choose to stay where you are, you gain an asset for any Speed defense task against this same enemy until the end of their next turn. Enabler.