“What the Agirul knows, the Agirul knows,” said the creature in a voice of great complacency. “Which means all of it, wherever its parts may be.”
The tl;dr version: Here’s a useful network of sentient tree spies for your players to befriend. Or deploy them to “weird up” a planet on your sci-fi campaign. Not really intended for player-character use, but an adventuresome player could try it.
As part of “alien week” this is my second species after The Stickies.
The Agirul is a race of sentient 4′ tall, long-limbed, naturally-camouflaged tree sloths who all share the same consciousness. (As they share a consciousness, “The Agirul” refers to both/either the race and/or the individual you are talking to.) The Agirul has the amazing ability to speak and understand any language, but temperamentally the Agirul prefers listening to talking. The Agirul spends its time hidden in the trees, eating leaves, sleeping, and eavesdropping on the other races present on their home planet (in The Land of the True Game that would be Shadowpeople, Eesties, Stickies, and Humans). Compared to humans, it has an excellent sense of smell and poor eyesight.
All of the parts of The Agirul (that is, the Agirul’s sloth-like bodies) are in constant communication via some unknown mechanism. The Agirul do not use tools or have any conception of government for themselves, but generally understand the societies and artifacts of other races through their eavesdropping. As The Agirul is the whole and not one body, it is not clear that it will ever die. When speaking to The Agirul the body you are speaking to knows what any part of The Agirul knows now or has ever known. This makes them impressive spies or patrons, but they generally want no part of the affairs of others — The Agirul is content to listen and think about what The Agirul hears.
Individual bodies of The Agirul are never near each other. Their natural stealth means that they generally cannot be seen. Their long, curved claws are very effective at tree-climbing but cannot pick up any objects suitable for a human. They can speak, but almost never do. They are nocturnal. If they have to climb down from the trees they are at a serious disadvantage and can walk only awkwardly and slowly. These qualities mean that almost all of the Humans on their home world do not know The Agirul exist. A few humans have seen The Agirul, but they have no idea The Agirul is sentient and can talk, mistaking them for the local fauna.
The Agirul sighed. “It has been sleeping weather recently, good sleeping weather, and I hate having it interrupted.”
The Agirul — 83 points
Attribute Modifiers: ST -2; DX -2; HT +2
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: SM -1; DR +1; Basic Speed -1.75
Advantages: Brachiator; Claws (talons, cutting); Cultural Adaptability (Xeno-Adaptability); Discriminatory Smell; Extra Legs (Long [all legs], Cannot Kick [all legs]); Flexibility; Language Talent; Modular Ability (Cosmic; languages only); Patron (The Agirul; constantly; highly accessible); Perfect Balance; Pitiable; Racial Memory (Active); Temperature Tolerance (from fur; tolerates cold temperatures to -HTx2 degrees).
Disadvantages: Bad Sight (Nearsighted); Horizontal; Loner; No Fine Manipulators; Nocturnal; Restricted Diet (Folivore; substitution allowed); Sleepy (sleeps 3/4 of the time); Slow Riser.
Perks: Natural Camouflage (+3 Stealth/-3 Vision when in treetops of home world); Born Biter; Furred.
Quirks: Sleep of the Dead.
Skills: Climbing (A) DX+1; Stealth (A) DX+2; Survival (Woodlands) (A) Per.
Features: Ground speed and Brachiator (tree) speed are reversed.
It swung to the trunk of the tree and began to descend, ponderously, like a pendulum swinging on its way downward, tic by toe, to slump at last on the ground at the roots, long legs and arms sprawled and helpless.
Notes on Setting
This alien race works well on a planet filled with forests. A player might befriend The Agirul via some astonishing and unusual sequence of events. One body (that is, one sloth-like creature) of The Agirul could be carried as a backpack with an adventuring party and perhaps it would translate for them or relay information that is seen by the other parts of The Agirul.
The Agirul as Patron
The Agirul cannot be taken as an Ally because of its shared consciousness’s effect on point value (you get “one” Agirul, you get them all), it can only be taken as a Patron at a base value of 15 points. There are approximately 10,000 bodies of The Agirul on its homeworld, and all of them think together, making them effectively like a large organization. However, the GM may rule that a player requires “Unusual Background” in order to have The Agirul as patron or even to know of The Agirul’s existence and nature.
It did not look comfortable. Its arms and legs were not designed for living on the ground. One look at its hands told that it was a tree-liver which never came to the ground of its own will.
Variant: The Spacefaring Agirul
It is possible to use The Agirul outside of this intended setting, perhaps even in the Deeps of Lyrae campaign. The Agirul is unlikely to ever become technological because it lacks hands. Also, The Agirul enjoys its existence hanging around in trees, eating leaves, and eavesdropping on more technological societies. However, the Agirul’s intelligence makes The Agirul a candidate for uplift, and they could even be a technological or spacefaring race if equipped with robotic or bionic manipulators of some kind if someone convinced them this was a good idea. (If so, some of the disadvantages in the racial template will need to be bought off.) The ability to speak any language might make them valuable spacefarers in a world with many alien species.
History of The Agirul
The Agirul’s ability to understand any language seems too strange to have emerged naturally. In Land of the True Game campaign it is quite likely that The Agirul is the result of an abandoned bio-engineering project or accident. Some of the colonizers may have intended to create a creature specialized in translation (and a spy, too!) to help them interact with the other aliens. The Agirul may then also be a bio-engineered uplift from some hypothetical non-translating, non-hive-mind tree sloth precursor that is now extinct.
In this campaign, The Magicians are at TL9 generally but TL10+ in biotech — they certainly have the ability to have once done such a thing. The Agirul could have escaped from the monster labs and started reproducing. But no magician now alive has any memory of this.
Next up, I’ll post some details from how I came up with these racial template stats and why I made the modeling decisions that I did.