Squad Penguins

Chris Van Deelen

Chris Van Deelen is the author of the Skirmisher Publishing LLC sourcebook Creatures of the Tropical Wastes sourcebook, co-author of its Wisdom from the Wastelands game supplement and contributor to the 'Sword of Kos: Hekaton' Anthology.

No. Enc: 4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90’ (30’)
AC: 4
HD: 3
Attacks: 2 (wing slaps) or by weapon
Damage: 1d4 / 1d4 or by weapon
Save: L6
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: VI (always have at least 2 artifact weapons of handgun or grenade size).

Squad Penguins are a particularly strange form of mutant life that has appeared since the final wars that nearly destroyed the world.

Physically, these flightless mutant birds appear little changed from their ancestors. They are typically only around two feet in height and weigh in at best, twenty pounds. They are short, cute and cuddly and they tend to use this to their advantage.

The really odd thing is that they are always found in groups of four, or small squads. There is always a leader, who makes all the important decisions for the squad, followed by a highly intellectual member who does all the thinking, while a smaller one who is highly eager to please and to help out wherever he can, finally with a tougher one who somehow always possesses a strange teleportation mutation that allows it to quite literally regurgitate almost anything the squad needs.

These mutant Penguins are highly cunning and quite devious, and always seem to planning something, always based around ancient military practices. Even something as simple as looking for food is treated more like a mission than a simple hunt.

These creatures are rarely ever separated, spending their lives together in one small unit. The only time that they tend to leave the squad is when they find a female that would make a suitable mate. Even then, the pairing is typically brief because each wishes to return to his or her own squad as quickly as possible.

After a brief mating ‘affair’ the female will lay a single egg after 4 weeks gestation. She then contacts the male and gives him the egg to watch over and hatch, wanting nothing more to do with it.

At first, the males are always reluctant to hold onto the egg but eventually the paternal instinct kicks in and they become very protective of it. The entire squad is affected by this paternal instinct and they will give their lives to protect the egg, even if it isn’t theirs. It is adopted by the entire squad.

The eggs hatch after 3 months and the offspring stays with the squad until it reaches maturity in 1 year. After that, the squads get together with other squads and allow their offspring to intermingle and eventually find squads of their own. Members of each squad are always of the same sex. Squads of mixed sexes are completely unheard of.

Although these creatures are highly aggressive, they really don’t mean anything malicious. They just take things to the extreme and honestly believe that they are part of a bigger picture, part of a cohesive group. Simply put, if the squads ever manage to pull themselves into an actual army, despite their size, they could be a dangerous force to be reckoned with. But due to their slightly chaotic natures, this is never likely to happen.

It isn’t uncommon for a Squad to make friends with other creatures, although they will always view the other creature with suspicion, no matter how many times they’ve proven themselves to be trustworthy.

When these creatures engage in combat (sad to say, which is quite often), they more than make up for lack of size and physical strength by using complex tactics and even weapons such as small guns, explosives and other melee weapons. The combination of skills and mutations possessed by the penguins, as well as their cute and cuddly appearance has been the downfall of many would be attackers.

Strangely enough, typically only one member of a squad will possess a particular type of mutation, while other mutations are shared by all. These will be listed in under Mutations as either single, or all.

Lastly, if ever a member of a squad is lost, the member will eventually be replaced by another who possesses the correct mutation, or on the rare occasion if this can’t be found right away, one member will spontaneously develop the lost mutation to make up for the loss, until a replacement is located.

Mutations: combat empathy (all), increased precision (all), intellectual affinity (marital – single, or choose 2 of the following computers, mathematics, physics, tinkering) know direction (all), quick mind (single), molecular intuition (single), teleport (special, single)

Source: The Penguins of Madagascar