The Wolves are an autonomous, self-replicating, quasi-intelligent weapon of annihilation left over from a foregone galactic epoch; they are the insurance policy of an ancient power, now long absent from the galaxy after moving past their starfaring phase into a Matrioshka Brain transcendence in a system somewhere near the galactic core. Wishing to prevent any other starfaring race from developing in this galaxy to ensure their own protection, privacy, and galaxywide entropy-minimization (all lesser intelligence is primitive, aggressive, disruptive and unconscionably wasteful when one is planning on hanging around running simulations unto the heat-death of the universe), these ancients unleashed the Wolves upon the galaxy to keep their neighborhood quiet and predictable.
An individual ‘Wolf’ is somewhat difficult to define, but in one sense it is a near-invisible nanoscale machine. Capable of radiating extraordinary amounts of electromagnetic energy along nearly any spectrum and of generating modest gravitic and strong nuclear field effects, these machines can decompose any dense matter into new copies of themselves; tens of thousands can be generated from a single gram of pure carbon. These units self-assemble into huge, swarmlike clouds, moving like a liquid or a school of fish through the black vacuum of interstellar space. If needed, and given sufficient time, they will decompose an entire planet to generate a new swarm.
These tiny machines are not individually intelligent, but are highly communicative and coordinated; due to network effects, large enough clusters of them attain the cunning and predatory intelligence necessary to adjust tactics and ruthlessly pursue their prey, behaving like some strange hybrid of a hunting shark and an extremely advanced starship. Extraordinarily large and well-organized clusters are capable of rudimentary strategic and logistical reasoning, and it is these ‘seeds’ that function like anthills to send out scouting sweeps and assault swarms to detect and destroy intelligent life. When they have utterly sanitized a system, they disperse or self-disassemble back to a relatively mindless observing state, retreating to seed systems where they await new targets.
This menace is central to the story and gameplay for Lights in the Sky Episode 1: The Wolves. Primarily, the Wolves compose the "faction" that engages in Raiding, as modified by these rules. Their ‘ships’ and ‘ground units’ have the same mechanical properties as the Ze’U’Lok from the Menagerie, except as noted. New Wolf units' maximum In-Service Date is always (Game Year + 5).
Wolf Aggression: Ranked 0-12, starts at 5
At the start of the Raiding Phase, evaluate for changes in Wolf Aggression caused by events since the start of the previous Raiding Phase.
Adjustments to Wolf Aggression:
- +2 - Any Empire fields a TY3005 class vs. a Wolf encounter (1x per game)
- +1 - Wolf Raid randomly targets a non-homeworld colonized system (1x per Empire)
- +1 - Vesper Homeworld recolonized
- +1 - An Empire generates (not finds) a new Jump Lane
- +1 - An Empire has Census on 4 or more worlds (1x per Empire)
- -2 - Wolves destroy a homeworld
- -2 - Average (Mean) Wolf Immunity of all remaining Empires is 5
- -1 - 1 or more Wolf Assaults destroyed in a single turn
- -1 - 3 or more Wolf Raids destroyed in a single turn
- -1 - Edge System rendered impassable to Wolves
Wolf Activity: If Wolf Aggression is now nonzero, roll 2d6 + Wolf Aggression and consult this chart.
- 3-5 - No new Wolf activity this turn.
- 6-8 - 1D3 Raids
- 9-13 - 2D3 Raids
- 14-18 - 1 Wolf Assault
- 19-22 - 1 Wolf Assault + 1D3 Raids
- 23-24 - 1 Wolf Assault + 2D3 Raids
Wolves don't preferentially target poorly-guarded commerce fleets and systems the way the standard Raiding rules do. This is because they're not looking for profit, but extermination. Assign Guaranteed Raids and Assaults to empires randomly, but with a weighting based on Wolf Immunity. Each empire has a randomization weight of 10-(Wolf Immunity). Roll randomly against the empires’ relative weights to determine which empire will be targeted.
For instance, given 10 active empires: assign a range of 10 results of a d100 roll to each empire. If the ones digit of the roll is less than the Wolf Immunity of the empire, reroll the d100. Repeat until a valid result is achieved that doesn’t contradict Wolf Immunity. If empires are eliminated, disregard and reroll results that would target them. Alternately, use an electronic random number generator or other fair means of applying a weighted randomization to skip all the rerolls.
Weighting for an empire that gets assigned an Assault or Raid is subsequently reduced to 1 for the remaining rolls this turn; a second assignment reduces their weight to zero.
Wolf Raids target a random system within the selected empire. The Wolf forces appear in the affected system as if a regular Raid were taking place. Do not roll randomly for raids; this mechanism replaces and supersedes the Campagn Guide’s Raiding and Piracy mechanics.
Wolf Assaults generate fleets in the Edge System nearest the target player's home system (CM choice if multiple edge systems are closest) and attempt to destroy interstellar life in any system between the starting position and their target. Assault fleets are built to total construction cost 1d10*(Wolf Aggression).
Wolf Assaults consider all systems to be Explored and therefore move at a rate of two (2) jump lanes per turn. An Assault fleet must make a direct approach from its starting system to the targeted homeworld (choose randomly between equal paths in any Movement phase), but must stop and destroy anything they encounter – colonies or units – belonging to any interstellar empire. Units or systems belonging to Empires with Wolf Immunity 10 can still be “targets of opportunity” for Wolf Assaults on their way to a primary target. They will invade a colony and pursue annihilation at a rate of 1 Census per turn, beginning the first turn after all ground units on the colony have been eliminated.
There can only be (Wolf Aggression / 2) Assaults in the sector at a time; additional Assault results are ignored. (Extra Assault Fleets still in-sector when Aggression decrements persist until eliminated.)
Self-Replicators: as self-replicating machines, the Wolf starships have the following special Construction abilities, which they will use in the Construction Completion Phase if eligible ships exist unopposed in a system:
Supply allows Ship/Base Construction: Ships/bases with the Supply ability are also Constructors. They can generate free construction equal to the lesser of (combined Supply value, current Wolf Aggression) per turn towards construction of a Base or Ship. They will attempt to build a Base if enough construction capacity is present in the system, and no Base is already present.
Assault/Basing allows Flight/Ground Unit Construction: If not already occupied, Wolf ships with the Assault ability are capable of generating 1 Ground Unit per turn per ‘division’, and Wolf ships with Basing Capacity can generate one Flight Unit per turn.
Transformative Flights can become Ground Units: Flights belonging to the Wolves that have the Transformative ability can be converted into half their C$ in Ground Units instead of being lost if they are deployed as ground units on a planetary surface. Furthermore, Wolf flights with the Transformative property that would otherwise be lost due to lack of Basing Capacity after a Defensive Scenario can instead, if no opposing spaceborne (Ship, Flight or Orbital) assets exist, perform a Planetary Assault from orbit instead of being lost/scrapped. If any survive the Planetary Assault they must be immediately converted into half their C$ in standard Wolf ground units.
Wolf Ground Units (but not Transformative Flights) are considered to act as a Planetary Shipyard with a construction output and Construction Capacity equal to their Attrition. Each full or partial Division of ground units utilized in this fashion provides a single "slip." This capability is subject to the normal Planetary Industry doubled cost for non-Atmospheric ship construction.
Units constructed or converted in any of these fashions appear during the Construction Completion phase.