In exploring the universe according to 2300 AD, human beings have encountered a few alien species... most are friendly and only one poses a massive threat: the Kafer. This book presents the Referee with all he needs to know to use them to best effect in his campaign (and would be an absolute treasure-trove to human military intelligence, so make sure they never get their hands on it!).
The first chapter, Kafers: An Overview, presents basic information on Kafer appearance, culture and history, with special emphasis on their dealings so far with humans. Throughout, hints are provided to enable you to present them effectively, bringing out salient features of their behaviour and nature without explicitly stating them, rather giving the party the information they gain by observation and letting them draw their own conclusions - a neat approach.
Next comes a visit to the Kafer Homeworld. This is described in standard astronomical and planetographical terms although it must be remembers that it hasn't been explored by humans yet so this information is only available to a party if they go to take a look - it won't be found in any databanks, however obscure or comprehensive they are! This is followed in quick succession by chapters on Kafer Physiology, Psychology, Sociology, Government, Language and Technology. It's all quite fascinating to read, and highlights why humans and Kafer do not get along... and may never be able to do so. The coherency of such a well-designed alien species makes them into excellent adversaries, it is one of the best such alien designs that I have seen. Telling is their relationship with another species, the Ylii, an advanced but much less aggressive race, the Kafer find it incomprensible that the Ylii would prefer to live in a state of 'not-war' with them.
Kafer language is hard to translate and even harder to pronounce or for that matter to read and write. It's worth the effort to pick up a little, though, as it is another way to highlight the 'otherness' of Kafers. To pronouce it properly you'll need to master an epiglottal click and trill your Rs. Their technology is equally baffling and suggestions are given as to how to bring it to the party's attention and facilitate their experimentation. Ingeniously, notes are given suggesting the 'obvious' interpretation of each item to human eyes as well as stating what they actually are: something the party may only get a chance to deduce if they see the item in action. Their naval vessels are presented with different levels of data: that known to Naval Intelligence, that which any Naval officer who's encountered them (or been told about them by one who has) might know and the real data, as well as the observable performance should the party see one. Again, neat information-handling at various levels to enable you to pass on what might be known. There's a chapter on Kafer Space that will allow you to take the war to them - or explore the region - with plenty of detail to make this exciting.
For those wanting to understand the Kafer further, there's a chapter called The Politics of Power which examines the political landscape - again something innovative and quite alien (and possibly having the potential of being manipulated against them, if only you could get a few of them to listen to you rather than to attack!). There's even more about the Ylii with a chapter devoted to them, then finally comes Fun With Kafers, a chapter that offers an assortment of ideas for mixing them into your plotlines.
Some of the most 'alien' aliens written for a science-fiction RPG, these are well worth a look even if you don't play 2300 AD... and if you do, they pose a remarkable threat to your party's peaceful life.
Return to Kafer Sourcebook page.
Reviewed: 31 October 2015