The Arborean Race

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adapted by R. Kevin Smoot

Average Size 1.2 meters height
(wingspan 2.5 meters)
Average Mass 25kg (densely muscled, light bone structure)
Average Lifespan 120 years
Reproductive System heterosexual, ovoviviparous
Body Temperature 36 degrees Celsius
Ability Scores
Walking 5 meters per turn
Running 20 meters per turn
Hourly 3 kilometers/hour
Special Abilities
Comprehension Keen situation knowledge, 5%. Can be increased by spending experience points.
Sharp Eyesight Ranged adjustment penalties are half normal.
Gliding Can glide and ride on air currents.

Author’s Note: The following race description assumes that the events of ‘The Volturnus Adventure’ were successfully resolved, and some several years have since past, allowing for the integration of these races into frontier life. In addition to the Mechanon expansion into space, other races of Volturnus have also ventured out. The Eorna were prodigious genetic manipulators and have successfully molded a few races worthy to travel the stars.

The feathered Arboreans originally hail from the planet Volturnus of the Zebulon system. They are yet another genetic experiment of the remnant Eorna race, engineered to fight against the Sathar threat.


Physical Structure

Arboreans are an intelligent species of genetically manipulated bipedal bird-like creatures. They are just over a meter in height and are covered by feathered plumage and have wing-like arms ending with a manipulating hand. Despite the wing-arms, Arboreans are technically flightless, only capable of gliding in a manner similar to the Yazirians. Casual movement is done on all fours, although they can move about on their rear legs as well when hand-held equipment becomes necessary.

The plumage varies greatly on space-faring individuals of the species, since the individuals can come from any particular community of Arboreans. Separate communities of the birdlike race all seem to share a common pattern of color and feather types according to their environment. There are communities that appear rather hawkish and other communities that appear owlish, each with appropriate coloration. Arboreans from communities in tropical climates often have bright colorations of reds, blues, and greens. Despite the exact feathering combinations, all Arboreans are of a common race, genetically similar. It takes only the span of a single generation in most cases to for Arborean young to adapt their plumage to match their neighbors. In all cases, male plumage is more striking than the corresponding females of the race. When excited, angry, or otherwise stimulated their feathers often stand erect, most pronouncedly on their head and down their spine.

The head of an Arborean has a large beak, curved downward to a point appearing somewhat like a cross between a bird-of-prey and a parrot-like beak. The beak is sharp but not well designed for chewing as the Arborean diet consists mostly of meat, supplemented by various fruits and nuts. Bright, forward facing eyes dominate the rest of their face. Arboreans can turn their heads almost all the way around in a manner similar to owls.

The body of an Arborean is slight, almost spindly. They are well muscled, but the musculature is designed for fine motor control used while maneuvering in the air, and not for feats of lifting strength. Bones throughout their body have hollow spaces to keep overall weight very low.

Each wing of the Arborean ends with a hand-like appendage that is quite deft. These digits can hold things and do fine manipulations as well as any human hand. When fully spread, the Arborean wingspan is over 2 meters, and enables the Arboreans to glide, and they can keep aloft nearly indefinitely in their native mountain habitat where they ride the strong constant updrafts of the wind.

The legs of Arboreans are quite strong and end in feet with talons. These feet can also grasp items strongly, but lack the fine motor control necessary for many tools (such as firearms). Arboreans standing upright walk in a rather ungainly manner. It is more comfortable for an Arborean to walk on all fours in a manner much like a bat would crawl about. Despite the crawling movement, Arboreans are still mostly erect when moving about due to the length of their wing arms.


The primary sensory organ for Arboreans is their keen eyesight. As a predatory avian, they can see even minute details even at substantial distances. As such, Arboreans make superb sharpshooters, able to hit distant targets, limited more so by the effective ranges of the weapons they wield.

Arborean smell and taste senses are not nearly as developed as some other races. The senses of touch and hearing are roughly equivalent to a human’s senses.


Native Arborean speech consists of a number of shrieks, screeches and similar calls. Despite the difficulties that the various frontier races have in producing these speech patterns, the Arboreans can readily reproduce the sounds of most other frontier languages with ease.

The name ‘Arborean’ is a Pan Galactic term, as the native speech term used is very difficult for most other races to articulate. Even if a frontier race understands native Arborean speech, they are not likely to be able to actually speak it, usually resorting to a polyvox to express terms in the native Arborean speech. It is understandably quite rare for non-Arboreans to learn the language.

Society and Customs

On Volturnus, the Arboreans live simple lives as hunters and gatherers, keeping to a tribal society. Events surrounding the Frontier expansion on Volturnus had largely left the Arboreans alone in their mountain homes. It was only when pirate mining operations encroached on their territories did the race of bird-men begin to take interest in the larger world and Frontier Space beyond.

The basic social unit of Arboreans is their immediate family. The nest-mates keep contact with each other whenever possible, sharing information and details of life, although displays of affection are unknown. It is not a matter of such displays being taboo. They simply do not have those emotions, whether this is rooted in physiology or just in their mental psychology. A few rare individuals have learned to show affection, but it is debated that they are simply emulating other species’ behaviors in an attempt to fit in.

Beyond the nest family, the next social grouping is the ‘roost’ which consists of an area or region where many nests are found in proximity. A leader or council of leaders is chosen to decide on matters that affect the region. Beyond these roosts, the Arboreans have not created larger social structures such as states or nations. However, the Arboreans do find their places within the social organizations of the other frontier races quite easily.

Arborean have few laws. The roost leaders make major decisions regarding misconduct, and most Arboreans follow their lead. Occasionally a particularly poor leader is removed from leadership, but this is a rare occurrence, occurring when a grievous mistake was made. Banishments are common, but capital punishment is not unheard of. Despite their own lack of distinct legal or social structures, Arboreans living among other races and cultures do not have much trouble adjusting, due to their keen observational skills. Even complex Vrusk legal systems are navigable by Arboreans.

When it comes to occupations, the Arboreans gravitate to adventuring and military endeavors, as scouting and reconnaissance comes naturally to them. Piloting, whether in airships or spacecraft, is another often chosen profession. Work with any of the major corporations is easily found by Arboreans seeking employment.


The Arboreans are fond of the other frontier races, but it is often rather difficult to see. Being avian, the Arboreans do not have much understanding of affection or similar emotional displays. They appreciate camaraderie but simply do not have the faculties for much in the way of affection or feelings of endearment. One should feel quite satisfied when the Arborean does not display hostility, as this likely means that the Arborean actually likes you. On the other hand, it is quite apparent when an Arborean does not like someone. Their feathers will stand on end, and the Arboreans are known to squawk directly in the face of disliked individuals in a rather provocative manner. This need not be actively hostile or indicative of an immediate attack, but it should telegraph clearly when a creature is not acceptable to the Arborean.

The Vrusk appreciate the Arborean’s ability to understand the intricate cultures common to Vrusk. This leads to almost immediate acceptance in their complex society. There are many Arborean operatives in Vrusk companies, often with much authority.

Yazirians like the Arboreans because they share a love of riding the currents. A Yazirian and an Arborean can spend hours relating with each other about the joys of flight. The Yazirians also appreciate the Arborean understanding of battle tactics.

Humans and Dralasites are a little less disposed to the avian race. There are few similarities in lifestyle, and even less comprehension regarding the Arborean lack of endearment feelings. They can often overcome their feelings once they get accustomed to the Arborean attitude, but it takes time.

The Arboreans have a great hatred of the Sathar (and related races such as the S’sessu). This is likely a genetically coded remnant of the Eorna manipulations of the Arborean DNA. Regardless of the source, the Arboreans will not cooperate with Sathar, and seem to be immune to Sathar mental influence as well. It is unknown if there are other hidden genetically implanted conditions or behaviors that might be discovered later. The Eorna are quite secretive about the types of experiments that were conducted prior to their contact with the Frontier races.

Special Abilities

Comprehension (5%)

An Arborean has an uncanny ability to understand situational events. This is quite similar to the Vrusk ability of the same name. All Arborean characters begin with a Comprehension score of 5. This score is the character’s percent chance to figure out any sort of social/political dealing that the player himself cannot. For an Arborean, this insight includes tactical maneuvering in addition to the typical social situations.

For example, an Arborean is following a Human he thinks is a spy for another organization. He follows the Human into a bar and sees him talking to a group of rough looking Yazirians, occasionally glancing over his shoulder. Then the Human hands some credits to the thugs and leaves the bar. The player of the Arborean character is not sure what the Human was trying to do, so he tells the referee that he wants to use his Comprehension ability. If he rolls 05 or less on a d100, the referee will tell him that the individual paid the Yazirians to attack the Arborean if he tried to follow the Human from the bar.

A character may improve his or her Comprehension score by spending experience points (see Improving Characters, in the Alpha Dawn rules).

In terms of game play, the Comprehension ability works in exactly the same manner as the Vrusk ability gained from keen understanding of complex Vrusk society. It is postulated that this ability comes to an Arborean because of their keen sight and that their minds are accustomed to thinking in three dimensions to facilitate flight maneuvers. These adaptations allow them to view problems from different perspectives simultaneously. The referee should also allow players to ask for Comprehension checks when the player does not understand the tactical maneuvers that his opponents may be using. It is difficult to outmaneuver or otherwise keep an Arborean from understanding what is really going on.

Sharp Eyesight

Arborean eyesight is very keen, even at distances. All range penalties to attack rolls are halved for an Arborean. This does not increase a weapon’s effective maximum range, as that is a physics limitation, not a matter of eyesight and coordination. Similarly, the spotting distance of an Arborean is tripled as if they were wearing magnigoggles. They do not gain any benefit from actually using magnigoggles over this racial benefit.


Arboreans can glide short distances by spreading their wing-arms. Assuming no strong updrafts, an Arborean can glide 1 meter for every meter he is above the ground when he starts. He must start at least 10 meters above the ground. The maximum distance an Arborean can glide depends upon the gravity of the planet, as shown below. In their natural mountain habitats there are very strong updrafts that the Arboreans utilize to stay aloft almost indefinitely. In such an environment, the referee should essentially allow the Arborean character to glide about at will (at normal double move rates), but the Arborean must still start from an elevated position.

Gravity Max. Glide
.6G 150 m
.7G 100 m
.8G 50 m
.9G 25 m
1.0G 10 m
Arboreans cannot glide on planets with gravities below .6 or above 1.