The oankali are based on the Xenogenesis trilogy by Octavia E. Butler (the books in the series are Dawn, Adulthood_Rites, and Imago).
|Intelligence:||High to Genius||/>|
|Treasure:||Individuals Q, ship: S, V||/>|
|Movement:||15, swim 12||15, swim 12/>|
|No. of Attacks:||1||3/>|
|Special Attacks:||See below||See below/>|
|Special Defenses:||See below||See below/>|
|Size:||M (5-7' tall)||S-M (4'-6' tall)/>|
The Oankali are a race of wanderers, gathering samples of all living things they encounter. They appear as humanoids with gray skin. Instead of eyes and ears they have sensory tentacles placed at various points on their body (the number and placement of the sensory tentacles varies between individuals). The tentacles look like earthworms, and can elongate from their normal length of about six inches to over a foot. They also have an opening in their throats covered with tentacles called a sair, which allows them to breathe water or filter harmful substances from what they are breathing.
In addition to males and females, the oankali have a third sex: the ooloi. The ooloi have two long elephant-trunk-like limbs growing from their armpits, called sensory arms. The ooloi have additional abilities beyond those of other oankali.
Combat: While their sensory tentacles are capable of producing many harmful substances, the oankali consider it an abomination to intentionally harm living things, so their style of combat is to disable, disarm, and restrain. An oankali will use its strength and speed to catch a hold of its opponent's body or weapon. If it manages to hold a weapon it will "sting" the most vulnerable parts of the weapon (such as wooden handles, etc.), causing them to rot, rust, or become fragile. If a person is grabbed, the oankali will "sting" the person with a sleep/relaxation drug (save vs. poison or become lethargic and uninterested in any strenuous action). The tentacles end in very tiny filaments that can penetrate the smallest openings in armor. If several attempts to poison does not work, the oankali will (reluctantly) attack its opponent's nervous system, producing a burst of pure pain in the victim's body (save vs. paralyzation or pass out). If the oankali is severely injured and its opponent is showing no signs of weakening, the oankali will sting to kill - causing the cells of the victim's body to shut down and die (save vs. death at -2).
Ooloi attack in a slightly different fashion due to their unique biology. An ooloi "smells" good to most humanoid creatures (save at +4 every round within 5' of an ooloi or stop fighting). The ooloi can use its sensory arms like powerful sensory tentacles to directly inject the chemical responsible into the victim (same effect, -4 to save). It also can attack with its normal arms (which they call "strength" arms) in typical oankali fashion, except that all saving throws are made at an additional penalty of 2.
The armor class of an oankali is due to its speed and physical toughness. An ooloi's sensory arms are protected by strong tissue, so they are armor class 3 (if a specific part of the body is targeted). All oankali regenerate at a rate of 1 hit point per round; they can boost this rate to 3 points per round if they take no other action. They cannot regrow or re-attach limbs except under very special circumstances. Their bodies are able to resist most diseases and are almost immune to poisons (given enough time, they could neutralize the poison within their body; therefore, only poisons with onset times of less than 3 rounds can affect them, and they save vs. all poisons at +2).
Habitat/Society: The oankali drift in space in their giant living ships. The ships look like spheres plated with enormous turtleshell plates, and can be as large as 150' in diameter. Each ship contains 2-3 shuttles that look like miniature ships (about 30' diameter) and are also alive. The shuttles are actually immature ships.
|L-W:||No||Yes (can float)/>|
|Save:||best of Bone and Leather||best of Bone and Leather/>|
|Armament:||Gas Firer: 0/> Medium Ballista: 0||Gas Firer: 0/> Light Ballista: 0/>|
|Length:||100-150' diameter||30' diameter/>|
The ship never lands - shuttles are used for this purpose. Since the ship is actually alive and somewhat intelligent, only one crew member needs to be present to direct it - the one crew member connects with the ship's senses and tells it where to go and who to defend itself against (thus the 0 crew for the weapons). The Gas Firer is an organ of the ship or shuttle; it fires the lethargy-poison that oankali use; saves are at -2 for gas from the ship, saves from the shuttle are at no penalty. The ballista is actually a dart or quill, which has the effect of the appropriate-sized ballista. As with personal combat, the oankali will attempt to dissuade and harmlessly neutralize foes. The ships and shuttles "taste" bad to most space scavengers and parasites. Egress to the inner portions of the ship and shuttles is gained by tubelike orifices created by the creatures.
The oankali travel at their slow speed until they reach a crystal sphere. When in wildspace, they attempt to find a suitable asteroid or liveworld, at which time they go about collecting food and resources for their next journey. The ship produces food for those inside and feeds on the wastes of its occupants. The ship also refreshes the air continuously. This reliance on the ship and their general distaste for killing has made the oankali a race of vegetarians, eating no animal products of any sort
The main unit of the oankali is the family, consisting of a male, a female, an ooloi, and children. The population aboard a ship is at least one-half children. In a mated group, the male and female are almost always siblings (this concentrates desirable family characteristics) and the ooloi is always from another family (this prevents familiarity from causing mistakes due to overconfidence). The female bears three children in rapid succession (one of each gender) and then waits until those are fully grown before having any more. An oankali's full name is its personal name, the name of its immediate family group, then its larger kin group (consisting of 3-4 other family units), then the name of its ship. When the population of a ship becomes high, the ooloi tells it to begin to divide into two ships. Two or more kin groups then go to the new ship and head their separate way.
When oankali encounter new flora or fauna, they (harmlessly) take a tiny part of it and store it in the memory of the ooloi and of the ship. At a later date an ooloi could grow a clone of the original creature (note that unlike the spell, there is no conflict with the original as the new life has no awareness of the other and vice versa).
Unintelligent creatures that attack the oankali are sampled and put to sleep; they either are left where they are or are traded to some creature that considers the creature valuable (as food, for magical parts, etc.). Intelligent creatures are captured, sampled, and then changed in some way. A favorite tactic used on humanoids is to cause the skin of the face to age, giving the person no actual harm but an appearance of being much older (the oankali know of the vanity of other humanoids). These people are then released to warn others not to attack the oankali.
Ecology: The purpose of the oankali race is to seek out and collect life ("collector" is a rough translation of their racial name in their own tongue). In addition to collecting parts of plants and animals, they rejoice in meeting humanoids from worlds and spheres that they have not been to in many years (if at all). If allowed to collect a portion of a being (whether it be human, elf, dwarf, etc. - so long as it is humanoid) the oankali will help that individual as payment. This help may be in the form of healing, curing a disease or deformity, removing a scar, or a number of similar effects. The only time an oankali would be able to regenerate or re-attach a limb is if it had encountered a humanoid creature that could do so (such as a troll) and sampled its flesh. By studying the sample and how it worked, such repairs would be possible for any ooloi in the ship.
The oankali can also make modifications to a person's body. Among these are increasing strength, dexterity, memory, or healing. These changes require more than a few minutes to perform (usually several days is required). The oankali will only perform such services under one condition: the recipient stay with the oankali long enough to parent a child. The ooloi will take the recipient's seed, mix it with the seed of another humanoid of the opposite gender and with the seed of its two oankali mates, and impregnate the oankali female and the recipient (or another female if the recipient is male) with the resulting cross-bred children. When the siblings (which are always male and female, never male-male or female-female, and look oankali) are born and reach their second year, the humanoid parent will be modified and allowed to go (the parent can leave before this but will not gain the improvement).
The parent may choose one of the following changes:
On very rare occasions will a group of oankali settle on a planet. This is only done if they encounter a race of humanoids that are willing to mix children with them for several generations. The oankali that will be staying are given a shuttle, and the remainder leave in the ship. The planetbound ooloi tells the shuttle to metamorphose into another form, which resembles a group of huts (which are all connected by shuttle-flesh, which is still AC 3). This "village" will slowly add to its mass (consuming nearby foliage). When the time comes, the oankali will have the village change back into a shuttle, at which point the oankali become spacebound again (and the shuttle grows and becomes a ship).
Note that the oankali do not value material wealth. The only reason they retain such items is so they can trade with potential mates or perhaps to convince a reluctant humanoid to allow a sampling of its cells. When the oankali do have a magic item, it invariably is one that is helpful and is not an attack item (if a harmful item is rolled, assume no item is present - it was traded away or discarded).
The oankali have a very fast-paced choppy language. For oankali-sounding names, pick among the following common syllables (at least two syllables for individual names, only one for kin group names):
ak al ch cha chi da gu i jo ka ku lo ni te ti ya yi
End the name with one of the consonant sounds in the above syllables. Thus you can have names such as Kaguyat, Chikaichdak, Jodah, Nikanj, Tikuchan, etc.
With their enhanced memories, oankali are able to learn and speak almost any humanoid language.
Obviously the oankali are not meant to be terrible foes of the spelljamming adventurers. They may coincidentally show up when your party is in desperate need of healing and little time to wait. A donation of a few cells to the oankali would get them some healing and possibly some food or freshened air.
Can the Oankali use conventional helms on their ships? I would assume so, but they generally have no desire to do so. If they were so minded, perhaps an Oankali shuttle could be equipped with a helm. The adult ships are strong-willed enouph to resist or ignore it, and would have to be persuaded to accept it. Only a major or minor helm can be used, unless some of the Oankali are psionic, in which case a series helm could be used. A lifejammer will eventually "kill" the shuttle, draining one hull point per day until it dies and breaks up. The only advantage the helm would give the ship is speed, since the ship is able to control its direction. (I'm only theorizing here...)
Here's an interesting idea: a oankali "village" in space. As noted, oankali can settle on planets and establish a small community. But what if they (for whatever reason) settled in a cluster of asteroids, or on the rings of another planet? In cases like this one, the ooloi will instruct the shuttle (or shuttles) to secure themselves to a suitable asteroid, at which point it starts to look like a rounded extension of the asteroid itself. The oankali use this "building" as a type of community hall, while the asteroid becomes engulfed in various forms of moss, grass, vines, and perhaps even small trees and shrubs, that the oankali cultivate from their genetic samples. After a while, the shuttle begins to grow and the oankali population increases. Eventually they will leave the asteroid, as they would leave a planet, but when they do the asteroid continues to support life. In effect, when the oankali settle on an asteroid, they terraform it.
When they find an asteroid that is allready inhabitable, and other asteroids are close by, they may settle on it and set up a "garden" for their ships. These "ship gardens" usually cover several asteroids. The oankali connect them together with a type of strong vine. The garden tends to look like a huge woven mat with stones in it. When a shuttle reaches maturity and begins to produce shuttles, the "buds" of the shuttles are carried to one of the other asteroids on the mat, secured, and cultivated. In time, some of these shuttles will fly free of the garden with a collection of oankali, while others remain behind to act as seed for new ships. These gardens can reach enemorous sizes after several generations, resulting in oankali "cities" made from vines, asteroids, and immature ships. Like the individual ships, the cities are self-supporting with their own sources of food, water, and air.
The Astromundi cluster would be a good place to put one of these oankali ship gardens. Note that their ships can exit Clusterspace since they are living.