Humanity has only encountered a small number of sentient alien races and of these only a few were present on the Antares mission. For ease of costuming the game will be using "star-trek style" aliens that are mostly humanoid in appearance with small changes in skin colour and variations in bone ridges.
Home Star: Sol
Home Planet: Earth
Humanity hasn't really changed much over the last few hundred years, they are the youngest of the sentient races and the furthest behind in technology although they are catching up quickly. Humans have several physical advantages over other alien races: They have higher stamina on average and are able to run for longer without tiring, and they heal faster, requiring less medical supervision for small injuries.
The Antares expedition is primarily a human endeavor and the Daedalus was built by human engineers. This gives them an uncommon technology advantage: every system and piece of equipment in the colony module was built by humans for humans and other races find the equipment slightly cumbersome even after they have become accustomed to it. The majority of the colonists are humans and even though time has reduced prejudice and these people volunteered precisely because they are interested in exploring the universe, humans still prefer humans to be in charge.
Home Mission Advantage: Humans start with 1 extra Skill Point and may raise skills to level 3 at creation and with XP. This represents their better understanding of human built technology, infrastructure, politics, weapons, and so forth.
Enduring: Humans have 1 extra health.
Home Star: Naos
Home Planet: Laor
The Ortani are a hive-mind species, they are humanoid in appearance but have very small violet tinted scales covering their skin and pronounced ridge structures running down either side of their forehead. On their home world they lived in hives that functioned as a single unit, the colony effectively possesses only one mind made up of millions of lesser minds all linked together through a shared psionic connection called the Harmony. This hive-mind, the song of the harmony, ensured that all worked together towards a common shared goal for the benefit of the hive, with no room for free will or individuality. Due to their hive-mind, the Ortani never developed a verbal language, but did develop ears to hear approaching threats and vocal cords to sing the song of the harmony aloud. Music plays an important symbolic role in their culture and although they have some trouble pronouncing complicated words, they possess a much broader vocal musical range than other races.
The Ortani Harmony are very isolationist, they do not interact with other species, finding their individual fractured thought-processes confusing and dangerous. When the Ortani first encountered other species hundreds of years ago, it caused an event they call the Divergence: exposed to new ideas, some of them began to seek out and experiment with individuality, bringing disorder and chaos to the song of hives. The Harmony responded by isolating those who no longer thought in unison from the hive-mind, cutting them off so they couldn't spread their dangerous ideas. Then they began to hunt down these individuals.
Those who found themselves outside the Harmony were at first very confused, alone in their own minds for the first time, it took a while for them to adapt and many did not survive. Those that did fled the persecution, forming at first small rebellious factions and then fleeing to the stars to seek sanctuary amongst other races. These individuals often refer to themselves as the Disharmony and over time they have grown in number and can now be found on many worlds, integrating with the local culture. Today many of the Disharmony were born on other worlds and have never heard the song of the hive-mind.
Most within the Ortani Disharmony embrace their new freedom and revel in it, seeking out new ideas, beliefs and philosophies purely to try them out for a while before discarding them to move to the next. They are careful about the consequence of this lifestyle however, the Ortani are very intelligent and while they might lack a reliable internal sense of ethics (just another idea to be tried and abandoned), they are also aware that actions have consequences and are careful not to upset the society they are living amongst with their exploration of ideas.
Psionic: Although cut off from the Harmony, all ortani retain their psionic abilities although they are very much diminished. Ortani characters begin with 1 point in the Psionics skill and increase it at creation and through XP as a General Skill.
Natural Psionics: Ortani naturally communicate psionically and verbal speech is sometimes a challenge for them. Ortani characters may use the Psionics skill to communication with others of their own kind without needing to spend a point of the skill. They still need to spend to communicate with other species though, those minds are more difficult to reach with the song.
Psionic Attack: Psionics come naturally to the ortani and they have been known to use them as a defence. They may spend a point of Psionics to lash out at another creature's mind, inflicting 3 stun damage (ignoring armour) and inserting a single word that the target hears as a shout. This attack requires line of sight.
Home Star: Achenar
Home Planet: Sygar
Sygarians are an amphibious species that once lived beneath the great oceans which cover 97% of the surface of Sygar. Over time they began to develop to live on land, but still spent much of their time in the water, retaining their ability to thrive there. Today Sygar is crowded and overpopulated, with huge densely packed cities built on the small amount of dry land, connected to vast sub-ocean cities that cover much of the sea floor. The over-crowding has led to many recent exoduses to other worlds and Sygarians can now be found living on half a dozen other planets.
Sygarians are humanoid, with blue mottled skin and gills on their necks. They can survive equally on both land and in salt water and are powerful swimmers. They cannot breath as well in fresh water and it becomes increasingly uncomfortable for them with prolonged exposure (more than about an hour) causing skin irritation that resembles human sunburn.
Sygarian culture is not that dissimilar to human, although notably they have a stronger interest in physical activities. Their home world is famous for holding athletic competitions and many Sygarians delight in challenging each other to tests of endurance and adaption to harsh conditions, something they occasionally extend to other races (although the fact that humans always seem to beat them in tests of endurance remains a sore point).
The most unusual feature of Sygarian physiology is their ability to detect and manipulate electrical fields. They seem to have evolved this feature during their aquatic past as a form of active electrolocation like that possessed by electric eels on earth: by emitting pulses of electricity into the water, they can detect the nearby electrical fields in the brains of other creatures, useful for finding prey and avoiding predators. Although this ability doesn't function very well out of water, it still provides them with several unique advantages.
Aquatic: Sygarians move far faster and more nimbly while underwater and can breath in saltwater and remain under indefinitely. In freshwater they can still breath but it is unpleasant and they take 1 damage for every 10 minutes they remain submerged. They also prefer to drink salt water over fresh water.
Electrolocation: Sygarians can sense the presence of electrical fields up to 20 meters away (200 meters away while in water). They can sense the size and intensity of the field, can tell roughly which direction it is and how far away it is, and can tell the difference between the orderly fields of electricity in a machine and the more chaotic fields of an animal's central nervous system. They cannot tell precise location or tell the difference between two animals (other than size difference). With physical touch they can sense the echos of past fields and can tell what kinds of voltages might be most suitable for a powered down device.
Bioluminescence: Sygarians can generate a soft glow from tiny points all over their skin, sufficient to illuminate even the darkest of areas. They can alter the colour of these lights and choose to only illuminate parts of their body.
Electrical Aptitude: Sygarians can also generate electrical fields in anything they touch, allowing them to power up a device with a flat battery, or even activate an unknown alien artifact without needing to research how its power supply works. It doesn't give any understanding of how to use the device however, it just switches it on.
Electrical Resistance: Sygarians take 1 less damage from electricity.
Home Star: Roshur
Home Planet: Anor
The first sentient species humanity every encountered, the chanor are a machine/organic hybrid species and are only a little more technologically advanced than humanity. They seized the chance to uplift a younger species in exchange for permission to examine the Earth precursor artifact. The chanor are a pragmatic and utilitarian race, to humans they often seem cold and unimaginative, lacking in passion and culture but this isn't really true. In fact they do have art, music, and stories, they just take a different form.
The chanor see beauty only in order; the whirring of cogs and the precise ticking of a clock is music to them, their art often involves straight lines intersecting at precise angles, and their stories are heavily structured with a specific number of syllables per verse (the number varies based on one of several styles). To the chanor mind, human music and verse often sounds chaotic and discordant, lacking in precision and although a few chanor artists have experimented in this area, their works are often poorly received.
At the core of chanor culture is the idea of celestial order: that there exists an arrangement of order so perfect that it sparked the beginning of the universe. Many have sought this concept through both religion and science, some believe it's a literal object and search the universe for a god-machine, others believe it's more abstract and seek it through their own works as something they can strive to achieve, but all agree that precursor technology is the closest to the celestial order that any have ever seen.
Almost all chanor are partially synthetic, the result of alterations made to them while they are still in the womb. This practice began hundreds of years ago when they began experimenting with cybernetics in an effort to bring themselves closer to the celestial order. These early cybernetics were crude until they discovered a precursor ruin on one of their planet's three moons.
Within this ruin they found an ancient mummified corpse which appeared to be part machine. This triggered significant speculation about whether the corpse belonged to a precursor or whether it was some other life form modified by them, unfortunately it also led to a time of strife.
Some believed that the remains were an example of the celestial order and shouldn't be disturbed, others that it was the technology within that was holy and that they should seek to learn all that they could to remake themselves in the precursor's image. One small fanatical faction who stood against disturbing the remains argued that the chanor were already perfect examples of the celestial order and that modification was a crime. They called themselves Purists and began launching terrorist attacks on the organisations that promoted enhancement and change. Over time they recruited significant support and their attacks became the Purist Wars.
Eventually the Purists were defeated and chanor society has largely embraced synthetic modification. Through studying the found technology they developed a process called Synthesis: A serum derived from precursor nano-tech is injected into their young while they are still developing in the womb. The nano-tech integrates itself with the organic cells and the child is born part living machine. The nature of these mutations are different in every individual, but most chanor are roughly 30% machine. The synthetic sections appear metallic but usually still have the flexibility of the organic parts and their skin is often a patchwork blending from synthetic to organic seamlessly.
When chanor die, the living machinery in their bodies is freed from the constraints placed upon it by their immune system and begins to spread quite rapidly. Consuming and replacing their organic tissues in a matter of days, resulting in a strange and mutated looking metal statue, that seems to still live and pulse slightly. These deceased are placed in burial halls where they lie in countless rows on display, monuments to the celestial order.
No new advancements in Synthesis have been made in over a century and most have accepted the process as complete but some strive to find new ways to bring their people closer to the celestial order and the precursors through experimentation with the serum. Use on adults or other species is almost always fatal so those who wish to continue this research seek out new precursor ruins in the hopes of learning something new. The Purists still exist (and are now quite obvious as the only chanor who have no synthetics), but they haven't had any real power for over a hundred years.
Ordered Minds: Chanor tend to be more distant from their emotions than other species, often appearing introspective. Because of this, they are less likely to panic, flee in fear, or be crippled by pain. Chanor characters may call on this advantage any time they would be hindered or incapacitated by injury (but not if they are unconscious), or any time they suffer a penalty due to emotional trauma.
Synthesis: Synthesis gifts all chanor differently. All chanor characters start with two Synthetic Gifts that have a mechanical effect on play (choose from the list below, you cannot take the same one twice), and they may have any number of cosmetic modifications such as metal hair, or silver patches of skin that just affect appearance or roleplay (All chanor have at least some obvious synthetics, there is no such thing as subtle synthesis).
Choose your starting Gift from the list here:
Celestial Eyes: Your eyes are synthetic, granting you a heightened sense of sight and the ability to zoom your vision on distant features. You can see in the dark, or view the world in different wavelengths (ultraviolet, infrared, etc), and can cause your eyes to glow, emitting a golden light. You are immune to being blinded.
Gifted Hearing: Your ears are partially or entirely synthetic, granting you extremely acute hearing. You can perceive things said over the other side of the room or detect a wild animal sneaking up on you through the underbrush. You can also hear things outside the range of most species, detecting ultra-high and ultra low frequencies. You are immune to being deafened.
Maker's Touch: You have synthetic machines flowing through your body that can be used to aid you in manual tasks. You can cause dozens of hair-thin silver tendrils, each about a foot long, to unfold from your skin (usually from your hands), each tipped with different micro-tools to aid in any task. These can perform simple manual tasks (picking up small objects, cutting soft materials, etc) but cannot aid you in combat. Due to their assistance, you start each session with 1 extra Labour.
Form of Grace: You have bands of silvery synthetics running through your body that aid you in movement, making you faster and stronger but they can also put extra strain on your organic tissue. You may take a point of damage to jump extremely high or gain the effects of spending a point in the Athletics skill or succeeding in an Athletics roll. You may do this any number of times but of course this risks serious injury and death if used too often.
Perfected Anatomy: The synthetics in your body are constantly repairing your organic tissue at incredible speed. Once per session you may heal all damage you have taken, even if you're unconscious (but not dead).
Moment of Tranquility: Small metallic nodes on your body can emit a field that nullifies all kinetic energy in the area for an instant. Once per session you may reflexively activate this at any time to negate all physical movement for the rest of the round. All damage that is about to be dealt and any that would be dealt for the rest of the round is canceled. This affects everyone in a scene, including enemies, but may not work against some forms of non-kinetic damage (fire, electricity, etc) at GM discretion. After one round everything may begin moving again but must build up momentum from scratch, for example a person may simple begin moving normally, but a bullet has lost all momentum and will fall to the ground. A rocket on the other hand would have a propulsion system and would start to accelerate again and a rock frozen in the air will begin to fall again and may still harm those it lands on.
Weapon of Order: Some part of your body can transform into an edged melee weapon as synthetics shift and fold in patterns too complex for the eye to follow. This could result in a series of small retractable blade that unfold from your hands, or a limb that changes completely into the weapon. Regardless of form, the weapon doesn't resemble a weapon any species is familiar with, it's alien and strange but simple in function: it's razor sharp. The weapon functions like a knife, deals 1 bonus damage, and you count as skilled when using it even if you don't have the Combat skill.
Breath of the Cosmos: Your respiratory system is heavily altered. You have an enhanced sense of smell, capable of not only of detecting odours more clearly but also analysing them to find out more about their source. You can also track someone by scent. You are immune to poisonous gasses and can hold your breath for several hours.
The oldest and most advanced species in the galaxy, the Veratha rarely interact with the younger races, preferring to keep to themselves and their space is off limits to other races. They remain something of a mystery to humanity and very little is known about their culture or customs. The limited interaction other races have had with them have been friendly, and on one occasion a Veratha ship provided assistance to a damaged human vessel.
So named by humanity after the similar looking creatures in Earth's oceans, these crinoids are a hostile species that has spread across the galaxy. They are not sentient and seem to be more a form of space parasite. They infect a planet and devour the organic materials it contains before launching spores into hyperspace to spread to other planets. This natural ability to enter hyperspace has drawn a great deal of attention from other species seeking to study them but so far any close study has proven to be too dangerous to carry out, the crinoids are extremely aggressive and attack anything that approaches.
Crinoids resemble red plant-like creatures, they have a thin stalk that usually stands about a meter high and ends in a "flower" comprised on 20 feather-like fronds spreading out from a central mouth. When stationary they can be mistaken for plants but the entire crinoids body is capable of prehensile movement, the fronds move like tentacles, grabbing prey to feed into the mouth in the flower's center, and the stalk can detach from the ground and crawl like a snake at incredible speed.
Several attempts have been made to exterminate them but they are extremely resistant and adaptable and so far all attempts have been unsuccessful.