Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Lose a Battle

Or, Fighting Smart in RPGs Part Two.

OK, this isn't really about how to lose - it's about how to avoid losing. Take some advice from two books that make a study of winning and losing in war - first  How to Lose a Battle by Bill Fawcett, (ISBN 9780060760243) followed by 'commentary' from The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

The man with the Plan.
 Fight on your terms, not your enemy’s. Sun Tzu says: Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him. (VI , 2)

Confirm all intelligence reports – don't believe everything at first glance. Sun Tzu says: Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their (spies') reports. (XIII, 17) 

Always try to take away your enemy's advantages.
Sun Tzu says: Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. (I, 24)  

Lack of decisiveness is fatal. Sun Tzu says: There are five dangerous faults that may affect a general: Recklessness, cowardice, a hasty temper, honor which is sensitive to shame and over-solicitude for his men. (VIII, 12)

Disorganized troops are ineffective troops  Sun Tzu says: Maneuvering with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous. (VII, 5)

Scouting is critical – know where your enemy is and what he's doing. Sun Tzu says: By discovering the enemy's dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated while the enemy's must be divided. (VI, 13)

It is as dangerous to underestimate your enemy as it is to overestimate him. Sun Tzu says: Which of the generals has the most ability . . . on which side is discipline most rigorously enforced . . . on which side are the officers and men more highly trained?  By means of these  . . . I can forecast victory or defeat. (I, 13-14)

Orders to subordinates should be clear and simple. Sun Tzu says: When his (the general's) orders are not clear and distinct . . . the result is utter disorganization. (X, 18)

You can surrender an advantage now if it means that your enemy will give you an advantage later.  Sun Tzu says: hold out specious allurements and make them (enemy chiefs) rush to any given point. (VIII, 10)

Make the terrain work for you, whether you hold it or not. Sun Tzu says: That general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack. (VI, 8)

Build flexibility and alternatives into your plan. Sun Tzu says: Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances. (VI, 28)

Expect that your plan will have to be revised once you see what the enemy is doing. Sun Tzu says: If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune. (VIII, 9)

Three ways to lose a battle you should win:
Be overconfident. Sun Tzu says: IF you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. (III, 18)
Fail to view intelligence data. Sun Tzu says: Hence it is  . . . the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army . . . and thereby they achieve great results. (XIII, 27)
Fail to employ appropriate security measures. Sun Tzu says: Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position where defeat is impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy. (IV, 14)

I would say, in summary, that the victorious side is the one that has the most information about its own side and the opponent, and makes the most use of that information.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ancient Faith at the Gaming Table

Fellow RPGBA blogger ST Wild wrote a while back about the difference between fantasy games and modern or more 'real world' games. In summary (read the post here), in more modern/realistic games it is harder to feel OK with killing NPCs, especially human NPCs. Should not there be another way to resolve conflicts?

Now, I've not read or played the games that ST references (World of Darkness, Call of Cthulu) but I understand the conflict ST is describing. 

I've played fantasy, sci-fi, and modern games, and killed NPCs in all of them. Most of the time, my rationale was, as Arnie says in the film True Lies: "but they were all bad". Does that make it all OK?  No, honestly it doesn't. 

Not all of the PCs I’ve played over the years were specifically Christian, and in lots of games, especially in my younger days, the question of a PC's faith or lack thereof didn’t come up. Now that I’m older, and as I have begun introducing my kids to role playing games, it behooves me to give some serious thought to the question: how should a Christian approach the violence often present in RPGs? 

Please understand that I do NOT believe that Traveller or any role playing game (no, not even that one) are evil in and of themselves. They are just rules and descriptions of imaginary places. If there is evil there, it is because we took it there ourselves.

If this is all imaginary what does it matter?

It matters because I, as a Christian, am the one doing the imagining. My PC’s actions are in some sense an extension of me. The game world does not exist in reality, but the game does – as a social/intellectual/imaginative activity I choose to be involved in.  Even if my PC is not a Christian, I am. My behavior, even when directing the actions of my imaginary alter ego, should reflect that reality.

What I’m saying is that as an Orthodox Christian, whether my PC is religious or not, I should avoid gratuitous use of violence in play and be mindful of my own attitude going into the game, recognizing that the NPCs in the game universe are a type of humanity which I encounter in the real world. My faith precludes in-game immorality. My PC’s actions may not be sinful, as they are imaginary, but imagination as the “thoughts of my heart” reflects the temptations I can face in real life.

So first of all, I don’t play evil characters. When I say evil, I don’t mean just PCs who kill random NPCs and kick puppies.  I mean all criminally motivated selfish PCs. The imaginary quality of the game can be a serious temptation to let out all kinds of petty, selfish behavior - cheating, stealing, cruelty and abuse of power (especially in games where PCs can accumulate enormous personal power through spells, weapons or technology). A PC with just a pistol still holds power over the unarmed NPC. 

Whether a PC is specifically a Christian or not, I try to play my characters as people with a Christian moral framework. I want to be one of the good guys. There’s trying to earn a living and do the right thing, and then there’s being selfish and unconcerned with the fallout of one’s behavior.

Second, if one of my players (especially my kids) demonstrates a tendency to play a character in an evil way, we are going to have a discussion about the motivation for this style of play. The PC is an imaginary construct, one step removed from the player, but the PC still reflects the attitudes and beliefs of the player. Maybe there are real life issues or temptations that are being expressed through the PC. Let’s get that worked out in the real world. At the moment all of my players are family or friends from church, so we can have those discussions fairly easily. I'm not your confessor or spiritual father, but I can suggest you go talk with him. Within my TU, don’t be surprised if your PC’s Chaotic Evil behavior starts having in-game repercussions like making enemies and gaining a negative reputation and having the agents of the Law on your trail.

Third, I try to design adventures that focus on problem solving and being the Big Heroes. I don’t write adventures that require the PCs to be criminals, and prefer not to run those kinds of games either. My Amber Zone Reviews have repeatedly brought up my dislike for crime scenarios. However, let’s be honest; being the hero won’t always get you flowers and a parade. Sometimes it costs a lot to do the right thing. A real hero just deals with it, whatever happens.That's what makes them the heroes.

Fourth, Many of my adventures use robots as antagonists; A Hostile Takeover is a good example of this. While there will be cases where the PCs (mine or my players’) will choose to resort to deadly force against living foes, these should be unusual. I encourage my players to be creative in solving their PCs’ problems. I've talked elsewhere about the use of the Reactions table and emphasizing role-playing, incorporating the PC's skills and experiences. There can be lots of dramatic tension in a confrontation where the PCs are trying to keep a gun fight from starting.

I can’t portray or illustrate the spiritual impact on a PC of sinful acts, that’s not what Traveller is or does. It’s an adventure game, the rules don’t cover a character’s spiritual life. I will use in-game characters to bring these issues up; in a game I ran, when one PC impulsively shot an animal from an air/raft while on a scouting mission, an NPC in the party upbraided the PC for the needless killing. I left it at that, but the point was not lost on the player. The Church is present in my TU, so religious NPCs will be speaking to the PCs about the spiritual dimension of their lives. See my post on Fr. Meffodi for an example.

It is better to strive for peace than revel in war. It is better to be creative and to outwit opponents rather than to destroy them. Even Sun Tzu said the acme of excellence was to win without fighting. It is better to work for order and creation than to cause destruction and disorder. I must consider how much my attitudes in real life are expressed in my role-playing. How much does having my PCs engage in violence inform my willingness to do so in real life?  Perhaps there is too much of a sense of ordinariness about violence, a casualness that says ‘oh well’ rather than ‘a tragedy has occurred’.  Human death is a tragedy; we were not created to die. By accepting/normalizing behavior in a game setting, I can be led to accepting & normalizing that behavior in the real world. I want to have my PCs be heroes, risking themselves for the good of others, because here in the real world, “greater love has no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends”.

Lord, have mercy.

So what can I do?

One of the wonderful things about Traveller is that it is not dependent upon fighting as the PC’s central activity. There is a galaxy’s worth of adventures in the OTU or my TU that do not involve fighting, or at least do not revolve around fighting. A few ideas that come to mind are:
·         Exploration of new worlds
·         Merchant campaigns in Trade
·         Rescue both in the wilderness, in space or in the city
·         Colonization in difficult locations
·         Disaster recovery
·         Salvage
·         Mystery/detective jobs
·         Smuggling/infiltrating hostile areas to aid the oppressed
·         Spy missions (just not the assassination kind)

Not to mention that there are several non-lethal weapons available in Classic Traveller: stun carbines and tranq rounds for your snub pistol, plus all of the non-lethal grenades I’ve incorporated.There's always good old fisticuffs as well. 

In summary, my faith is part of the structure of my TU, not something layered on top of it. I will accept a certain amount of imagined violence in the game, because it is part of the game, and because sometimes opponents will not listen to reason or moral admonition. Risking a PC's life and fortune in pursuit of a good cause reminds us that virtue is hard, but worth it. Pursuing a virtuous life in the game can be a moral reminder to help the pursuit of virtue in real life. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Intel and Tech Briefs for Adventure Inspiration

Anybody who's read my blog for long knows that I am a regular reader of Strategic Forecasting, because I like to keep up on what's going on in the world. But have you considered how you can use real-world analyses to bring the complexity of geopolitics to your Traveller game?  
Each planet/system in a Traveller subsector can be treated like its own nation; neighbors compete for local and regional dominance, for access to markets for their exports and for suppliers for the imports they want.  Stratfor looks at these activities in the real world, but the motivations and decisions and actions they explain can be easily transferred to Traveller, whichever rules set you are playing with. 

To get a sense of the possibilities, visit these sites and explore the content available.

All of these sites have a mix of free and subscription content. They're not cheap, so choose wisely how much intel you want to access. The free stuff should be plenty for a referee who wants new adventure ideas, particularly for settings where the PCs are involved in local/interstate politics.

I have described what Stratfor is and does elsewhere.
The Jane's Information Group has been a preeminent source of military data and intelligence since the 1890's. IHS/Jane's 360 is a free information source covering the dreaded "military-industrial complex". The site covers land, air and naval technology; who's buying or building or selling what and to whom. 
Geopolitical Monitor is a consultancy firm based in Canada that “offers members original, timely and comprehensive analysis on events of international significance to readers in the English speaking world.”

Here are some recent articles that could be the basis for a Traveller adventure, either in the Official Traveller Universe or in your (or my) universe, or in another published setting like the Clement Sector by Gypsy Knight Games.

"China Builds another island in the South China Sea- China is creating new land masses that they can claim as Chinese territory, far from their sovereign waters. It was reported this week that the Union of Socialist Worlds is constructing another planetoid habitat in the uninhabited binary system of Cimarron (Dothan-Talaveran 0400), putting almost the whole of the Dothan Alliance within Jump-4 striking range, if Union naval assets are to be based there. The Alliance has lodged formal protests at this intrusion into their near-space PCs can be hired to spy on the installation, to sabotage the work, or attack construction/supply ships on the way to it. Or they might approach it as free traders, looking for a chartered cargo run, and get on the wrong side of the Dothans.

There's a rumor floating around the starport that one of the local defense contractors has concluded a sale with a neighboring system and there are lots of interested third parties who may for one reason or another want to see the arms shipment destroyed/diverted/never arrive.  

Imperials from all across the Regina subsector have over the years travelled to Efate to join with the terrorist & pro-Zhodani group Ine Givar. Now, as Imperial Marines are finally making significant progress in stamping out the organization, many of their agents are fleeing Efate and returning to their worlds of origin, to ‘continue the fight’.  Planetary authorities in Regina, Aramis and Lanth subsectors are stepping up security measures, increasing scrutiny of travel documents, and tightening up cargo and weapons inspections for Travellers coming from Efate and the surrounding systems. The Travellers’ Aid Society has officially protested these measures, stating that the rights of its members are being infringed. 

Every referee can use some assistance in coming up with exciting adventures for their players. What better source than the real world, where all manner of conflicts are actually going on?  Nothing like some grounding in reality to keep the sense of Traveller as a science-fiction game.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Homesteader's Stand - Amber Zone Reviews #35

Amber Zone: Homesteader's Stand, by William H. Keith

A beautiful girl, a besieged ranch and a gang of armed thugs. Welcome home Traveller!

Check out the series introduction here.

Location: the planet Lorelei (Foreven Sector, Fessor 0108) C-668742-7 in the Greensummer valley and town of Firstfound.

The parish church in Greensummer valley.

Patron: Dawn Sinclair, a childhood friend of one of the PCs, who also calls Lorelei home. This fact is written into the adventure; the referee will have to set it up with one of the players before the adventure begins.

Mission: The Yedos, a group of supposedly persecuted religious zealots from nearby Blukjere; have shown their true colors as ruthlessly aggressive supremacists. They have run nearly everyone out of bucolic Greensummer Valley, with the exception of Dawn's father. He refuses to abandon his land or submit to the Yedo's intimidation. As such, it's only a matter of time before the Yedos try to force him out, ahem, permanently. Dawn wants the PCs to 'help' her father, but it's up to the players how they will help.

Complications: Lorelei is a peaceful farming world of ranches and small towns. The constabulary is outgunned or cowed by the Yedos or both; the planetary government is not able to assemble a militia. The PCs are on their own and as such they are very outnumbered. The Yedos travel in packs and have automatic weapons; plus their supremacist philosophy means they are very unlikely to be persuaded by negotiation – they believe they can just take what they want as the natural superiors. They also have a number of Loreleians in their camp; supposed converts that are likely used as slave labor. The group leader, Lord Jerfed is reputed to be invulnerable.

Payoff: Dawn doesn't have much money, and the local town of Firstfound isn't rich either. The adventure suggest they may provide more social rewards for ridding them of the Yedos; medals, awards and reputation. Dawn might reveal a romantic interest in the PC she knows, and want to join the PC's group. Plus, defeating these jerks is just the right thing to do. They are arrogant selfish takers, with no regard for anyone they consider 'inferior'; that is, anyone who isn't one of them.

Strong Points: Another strong entry by the Keiths. I want to run this adventure. This is a good solid story archetype; it is a form of Seven Samurai or The Magnificent Seven. Referees can/should watch one of these films to get cues on how to portray the Yedos, Mr. Sinclair and the other Loreleians. The problem that the PCs face is simple while the solution to it is not. There are many ways the PCs can approach this besides full frontal assault with guns blazing. The biggest limitation is the amount of equipment they have to hand with which to counter the Yedo's advantage of numbers. Being arrogant rather than paranoid, it is likely the Yedo's camp is not well secured so the PCs can spy on them and perhaps sneak into the camp. Even if the Lord Whatshisface gets taken out, the rest of the Yedos will not disappear in a puff of smoke, it could be a long battle to bring them all to heel.

Weak Points: The absence of effective constabulary or national militia is not entirely plausible; but it is also a conceit of the game that allows the PCs to take center stage. As such I'm willing to mention it and move on. Depending on the players, the potential romance might be a role-playing opportunity or an unwanted distraction. There is little about this adventure that is strongly science fiction; unless the PCs have g-carriers and fusion guns, this could be set in the 19th century in the Wild West.

What I'd change: Going with the idea from the weak points, how would this adventure play differently if one or both sides had contra-grav and energy weapons? Maybe not that much, as it is a battle of wills and wits. It should be possible to disconnect the adventure from the 'old home week' hook and replace it with another motivation to aid the people of Greensummer valley. If the PCs have a strong tech advantage, I would give the Yedos more men or a small number of anti-vehicle weapons. If (or when) this becomes a gun fight it should be a nail-biter.

In My Traveller Universe: I don't have any worlds that match Lorelei's climate, population and tech level, but it seems like the kind of thing that would happen on an Independent world rather than a member of a star nation. I'll pick Lasham (Dormar-Ostrander 0609) because of its remote location.

Map: The map details Greensummer valley, with marks indicating Mr. Sinclair's farm and the Yedo's compound. The Amber Zone gives no description of the valley, so this map is just my version. Referees can make their own. The Sinclair ranch, Yedo camp and town of Firstfound are all marked. The black lines are roads, the blue rivers and the red is the boundary of the Yedo's control. 

How Greensummer was my valley . . .

I made this map, using Hexographer. It may be reproduced or modified without permission. Photo taken from Assumed to be in the public domain. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I won Second Place! Again!

The First Annual Amber Zone adventure Writing contest has come to an end, the winners were announced yesterday (see the results here) and I won second place for my entry A Hostile Takeover

Previous wins include: 
Chapel Bells Chime, 2nd place entry in the 2013 Zhodani Base "76 Patrons" adventure writing contest. 

Renovations, 2nd place entry in the 2012 Zhodani Base "76 Patrons" adventure writing contest.

Seriously, I need to improve my writing. I'm not sure what it is that I keep getting 2nd place. Don't get me wrong, it's a blast participating in the contests and learning from what others present, and the prizes are wonderful. I'm grateful to BeRKA and all the other judges for giving my writing such positive reviews. 

It must be my pride telling me "you shouldn't be satisfied with second place." You know what, pride? Shut up. I didn't create my writing talent. It was a gift given to me by God. So thanks and praise go to Him first and foremost. 

Will I ever win a 1st place prize?  I don't know. I'll get there when my writing is good enough to deserve it, and then I'll be grateful to all the people who have influenced and encouraged me to write. For now, I'm going to just keep writing. It's something God has enabled me to do, and it's just a huge amount of fun. 

Thanks to all of you who read my blog, and comment on and share what I've written.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Motivated Villains for Traveller #1

Creighton Broadhurst recently wrote a blog post on what motivates villains for RPGs. I liked what he wrote, so to go along with my earlier post about villains; I set myself up a challenge, to come up with villainous NPCs that are driven by the motivations he gave. My intention is to do these as a series, like Casual Encounters, but with people you DON'T want to meet. To begin with, here's the list Creighton used. Read the full blog post here.

Justice or Retribution
Selfish; Feels Personally Entitled
Poor Self-Esteem
History of Abuse
Social Acceptance
Religious Or Political Convictions
The Greater Good
(Delusions of) Grandeur

[Library Bob's edit 11/20/2014 - I found a podcast on this same topic from the podcast site "On RPGs". Check it out!]

Self-Esteem villain

Peter Bland 777877 
Bureaucrat or Diplomat, 2 terms, rank 0


Bland came from a middle class family, and thought that public service might be a way to get ahead, so he joined the Organization. But his timid nature and a few negative performance reviews from unsympathetic superiors, which Bland took as accurate assessments of himself, quickly shuttled him into a low-paying clerical job. There he remained, afraid to ask for a transfer, seriously unhappy, but without the ability to distinguish himself with superior work, and nothing but obscurity and a tiny apartment in the low-rent district to look forward to.

Then one day one of the office messengers, one of very few people who gave Bland any notice at all, suggested that he take some confidential information and leak it onto the public networks where interested parties would pay good money for it. Encouraged by the messenger and the prospect of being able to afford better accommodations, Bland searched the files he had access to and found something the messenger suggested might be worth something. His first leak netted him a big score, but more importantly, for the first time, Bland felt like he had some power, like he was somebody. He was hooked. Bland began exploring the Organization's data network for other useful things he could sell off.

A close call with Organization security has left him terrified of being caught, but the money has enabled him to conduct his personal life in ways he never could as an honest man, so he is also reluctant to give it up. Being a big spender allowed him to feel like a big shot. He continues to dig for new intel to leak, encouraged occasionally by the messenger.

The player characters will become involved with Bland's doings while doing a job for the Organization, which goes spectacularly wrong, despite all the PC's planning and preparation. Somehow their target knew what was coming before they got there. To finish the job, and to prove that they were not at fault, the PCs must track down the source of the leaked intel. Who got it, from where did they get it, how did it get out of the Organization's control? There may be several operations that Bland has compromised, or secrets that the Organization wants to get back under wraps. The players could have a lengthy campaign doing damage control before every getting close to finding out the source of the leak.

Bland's handler, the office messenger, will disappear if the PCs get too close, leaving Bland hanging out to dry. If confronted, Bland will break down almost at once rather than fight; his panic about discovery and the loss of his source of cash will overwhelm him. Depending upon how the PCs handle the confrontation, Bland may even attempt to do himself in. He might run, but if he does, it will be in a panicky and unstealthy manner that will make tracking him down easier. Once he's in custody, he will talk freely about everything he knows about the fiasco of his intel leaks. Unfortunately everything he thinks he knows about the messenger is false. The Organization may hire the PCs to chase down the handler, who was clearly a professional agent working for another Organization, but that's another job.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Raid on Stataorlai - Amber Zone Reviews # 34

Amber Zone: Raid on Stataorlai, by Keith Douglass
Check out the series introduction here.
Location: Stataorlai asteroid belt, (Kyaenka 0605, Dark Nebula)

Patron: The PCs are recruited by a representative of Clan Hweaolriya (hereafter H-clan), the clan to which the PCs belong.

Mission: The PC's clan is at war with the Aeahekihiykhiy clan (hereafter A-clan). H-clan leadership suspects A-clan is assembling a fleet to strike at them, but they do not know where. The PCs are hired to do strategic reconnaissance of the titular system, looking for actionable intelligence of the suspected military buildup.

Complications: The system the PCs are investigating is under the control of the Eakhtawa (hereafter E-clan) clan; officially neutral but favoring A-clan. If the PCs offend the E-clan it could bring them actively into the war, on A-clan's side. As such, the PCs have to avoid any hostility with E-clan that can be tied back to H-clan.

Payoff: Pay is not mentioned in the adventure. The PCs may be considered active duty military and as such do not undertake the adventure for pay. The PCs are provided with a ship for this mission, so maybe they will be allowed to keep it in exchange for being available for other missions.

Strong Points: This is the first Amber Zone written specifically for Aslan characters.
However, this adventure can easily be modified to work for human PCs. The situation calls for a lot of planning, subtlety and coordinated action. Towards the end, the PCs will be able to take more direct action, which should be very high-tension. If they succeed they could short-circuit A-clan's war plans, and give H-clan a real edge.

Weak Points: This is a very linear adventure, the author gives only one way to go about handling it. Any other ideas by the PCs will be completely off-script, meaning the referee has to make it up as it goes. As I read the text, there is about a 50-50 chance that the PCs will be discovered in the first week. If they're 'made' then the mission is over. The ships of E-clan will pursue any unidentified ships – the text states that E-clan ships are 'always hostile'. The PCs actions are pretty much scripted for them by the mission parameters - there's not much freedom to choose.

What I'd change: I would give the PC's the possibility of cracking coded communications between ships at a Lagrange Point aka Trojan Point which might avoid the need for direct action. I would allow the PCs to try stealthy things to change the odds of them being discovered.I would also sketch out the course of the clan war, and allow the PCs other scouting or combat opportunities; stretching this adventure out into a campaign.

In My Traveller Universe: I don't have many asteroid belt systems in my TU, and few are Independents between even minor powers. The best bet would be to locate this adventure in Sutter's Belt (Dothan-Talaveran 0103). Either the Stedhard Alliance or the Kassiran Defense League could be using the Belt, but neither side would want the Dothan Alliance getting in on their opponent's side.

Map: The most of this adventure takes place in titular asteroid belt, so the referee will want to sketch up the belt with its gas giants & their Trojan points.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The creatures of Little Fuzzy

Designing a dragon was fun, but not exactly normative in science fiction. So this time I'm going to try something with more connection to the classic sci-fi literature that forms the foundation of Traveller. 

H Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy series of novels take place on the planet Zarathustra. On Zarathustra, we find several interesting critters, some described in detail some merely mentioned. Here I present my interpretation of these creatures, based on the descriptions given in the first book, Little Fuzzy.
  • Harpies
  • Land Prawns
  • Damnthings
  • Bush-goblins
  • Hobthrushes
  • and, the Fuzzies themselves

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A surprising (or obvious) Animal Encounter

I've been thinking on the Encounters section of the Classic Traveller rules lately, so it only makes sense that I would take another look at the Animal Encounters section.
A Highlander Cow, from the planet Dumarque

The CT Animal Encounter rules are both flexible in execution, and clever in design. Instead of designing creatures based upon their appearance (body shape, number of limbs, color, skin covering, etc) the rules focus on describing an animal's behavior and place in the ecosystem.