Ideas for alien races

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
How would such an alien character interact with the game world?
That, there, is the problem. The primary function of a science-fiction species in a book for film may be to be alien and unknowable; but the primary function of an RPG game's races, though, is to be playable.
 

Eltab

Villager
Some of the great sci-fi authors exploited this: the Kzinti by Larry Niven
Larry's XYZer of Worlds 5-ology works with the Puppetteers to make them more than a cardboard-cut-out "manipulative coward".

We can play with that a bit for current purposes:
Grazer
This intelligent race of herbivores feels most happy and secure when in a group of their own kind. Grazers have a hard time with the concept of 'deadly combat', but understand 'internal rivalry' just fine. (Their mating rituals involve setting dominance hierarchies.) Individuals who are running solo will tend to adopt a close network of friends as their new 'herd.' Grazers in large herds can be subjected to groupthink but individuals are perfectly capable of skepticism and critical analysis. Grazers want to understand the universe so they can locate potential threats, and decide what must be done about each: fight, flee, negotiate, ignore. They also want to locate places of safety (or abundance) so a herd can move in and occupy it. Philosophical / religious Grazers speak of the balance between Individual and the Herd, and the mutual obligations among all Individuals. Their known religion is reminiscent of the Greek gods: a clan of beings who personify natural forces and personal drives. There may be a 'secret religion' (or just very personal intimate thoughts) as well.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
Without getting into graphic posts or polarizing debate on Terran reproductive/gender values, how might you design an alien PC race with a different reproductive model from humans, and how would that shape their society, culture, outlook, and motivations? How would such an alien character interact with the game world?
This is not too hard to come up with, even if we *only* use reproductive models we find on earth and don't go crazy alien.

- Plant-like hermaphroditic people who develop a great amount of seeds. They use "kindergardens" - large fields which are tended by gardeners. These people don't really form bonds with their "biological" children and one a small fraction of the seeds really grow into something that may live

- A bee-like people who has three genders: queens, drones and workers. They form "states" and tend to lead peaceful lives inside their "state family" as all workers and younger drones are basically siblings who descend from the same mother. The queens have one (long or short) fertile phase in their lives during which they mate with drones and lay a huge amount of eggs. Queens are fierely protected before and during their fertile phase, but even after that "elder queens" are respected counselors to their people.

- a fish-like undersea people where male and female of the species do not only mate for life, they basically become one mind, flesh, body etc. at the act of mating. Only in this state they are able to produce offspring. Of course, finding the right partner would be a central part in each one's life.
 

monsmord

Explorer
That, there, is the problem. The primary function of a science-fiction species in a book for film may be to be alien and unknowable; but the primary function of an RPG game's races, though, is to be playable.
Absolutely, and that is a sticky wicket. That other forum is about writing, where the limits are imagination, so I found the experience immensely frustrating. And it's all fun and games writing about intelligent dust clouds an AU across that reproduce only when dispersed by a star going nova, but playing one... :)

Fortunately, even anthropomorphized (or "uplifted") species can vary enough in their biologies that unusual reproductive traits, habits, or needs can offer a nice choice in role-playing opps and race design. Say, a species that evolved from egg-layers where they never directly mated. Or something like salmon or cod where their "lusts" are impersonal and manifest as a desire to return to their birthplace to spawn (an intense locophilia). Or like cuckoos where they reproduce but leave other species to rear their young. Or a race that reproduces asexually through spores that incubate in other hosts (they'd better not sneeze next to my PC!), etc. The way these beings perceive family, interpersonal relations, community, even government and religion would be a lot of fun to explore.

I admit a bias toward the "sci" in my sci-fi, so I look for game options to create aliens that, even if they must be human-ish enough to play and relate, still have odd psychologies and different motivations from us. I tend away from options that are essentially humans defined by an exaggerated trait or attitude, such as Klingons and Vulcans, or biologic structures best described as human-but-better-at-something (taller, 2 heads, 4 arms, etc.). They can be awesome for role-playing and are excellent sources for philosophizing about what it means to be human. But, I don't know, I guess I just like really weird stuff.

Morrus, in your initial suggestion of a piscine race, what occurred to me almost immediately was that reproduction may be more fishy (less family-oriented? Do the parents even meet? Are the young kept in a parent's mouth for a while?), their expectation of motion is much more 3D than ours (they normally expect danger from any direction, they feel frustrated by land-based movement, etc.), and their senses will be different (smell may be more acute, hearing biased toward lower wavelengths, they may have an EM sense, they'd need filters and special lenses to see outside their liquid, etc.) And what might these differences do to their society, culture, art, philosophy, etc.? I'd be keen on a sourcebook that made them a complex, robust PC option. Power to the sea-monkeys!
 

monsmord

Explorer
Plant-like hermaphroditic people who develop a great amount of seeds. They use "kindergardens" - large fields which are tended by gardeners.
OMG! Simultaneously hilarious and logical! Brilliant!

a fish-like undersea people where male and female of the species do not only mate for life, they basically become one mind, flesh, body etc. at the act of mating. Only in this state they are able to produce offspring. Of course, finding the right partner would be a central part in each one's life.
Niiiiiiice. One wonders if mating is the final act of their lives, if the new gestalt eventually becomes gendered and mates again, or if the gestalts settle into 3rd/4th genders that mate to produce a different type of generation (to your point about the bee-folk, perhaps the newly-formed gestalts represent a "higher life form" and when they mate they produce offspring with different attributes than before, whether smarter, larger, more specialized in design, etc.)
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Without getting into graphic posts or polarizing debate on Terran reproductive/gender values, how might you design an alien PC race with a different reproductive model from humans, and how would that shape their society, culture, outlook, and motivations? How would such an alien character interact with the game world?
I was thinking of a biotechnical race, engineered to explore the universe because their creators could not easily escape their home world's gravity well. These pods fired off in all directions would- upon landing- assume a form similar to the local life forms, record experiences, and send that accumulated data back to their homeworld. They could self repair, but generally would not reproduce.

But if a pod lost contact with the homeworld for an extended period of time, it would mutate. Instead of continuing to futilely transmit, it would instead start to try to become a "Repeater". Which is to say that it would use whatever materials on hand to build a transmitter powerful enough to reach homeworld (or another Repeater) and then send out a whole new set of exploratory pods.

Though they came in peace and could be quite charming, that charm was merely there to be relatable and make other intelligent species communicate with them. The primary mission was exploratory, so they had no empathy. There are planets where once a thriving ecosystem harbored a great civilization but is now completely converted into a massive Repeater.
 

monsmord

Explorer
Though they came in peace and could be quite charming, that charm was merely there to be relatable and make other intelligent species communicate with them. The primary mission was exploratory, so they had no empathy. There are planets where once a thriving ecosystem harbored a great civilization but is now completely converted into a massive Repeater.
Love it. Making this a viable PC race may require some tinkering or setting assurances, but as written this would make a fantastic sci-fi story element, perhaps as protagonist or antagonist.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Love it. Making this a viable PC race may require some tinkering or setting assurances, but as written this would make a fantastic sci-fi story element, perhaps as protagonist or antagonist.
In a sense, they're perfectly playable, very stable, sentient...planet-busting bombs.

"Nobody puts Baby in a Farraday cage..."
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
The mysterious Ching are highly improbable: a highly-intelligent, graphene-based colonial species that strongly resembles a crystalline jellyfish/arthropod hybrid. They get most of their "nutrition" by absorbing solar radiation, supplemented by ingestion of raw materials of any and all kinds- "poisoning" is incomprehensible to them. They have been found on many planets despite possessing no known star-faring technology.

These facts in aggregate have led many researchers to believe they are a created, not evolved, species, possibly designed by an as-yet unknown race as part of their waste disposal & repair technologies.

The Ching themselves have no stories or theories of their own to contribute to discussions of their origins.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
The mysterious Ching are...
The Ching themselves have no stories or theories of their own to contribute to discussions of their origins.
Nice, except I think you are missing an incredible opportunity by them not having a creation myth. I don't know what that myth should be (maybe their should be dozens of them?) but it seems like a very interesting opportunity.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Nice, except I think you are missing an incredible opportunity by them not having a creation myth. I don't know what that myth should be (maybe their should be dozens of them?) but it seems like a very interesting opportunity.
Other races may have stories about them, but to the Ching, the facts behind their origins are unimportant.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
The Sreab Erac and Sreab Yddet

Both subspecies of Sreab are small pseudo-mammalian carnivores that stand slightly less that half a meter tall. While they both have light colored (usually white) fur on their bellies, their body coloration can vary significantly. Sreab Yddet only appear with body colors which are some shade of brown (although some are pale enough to be called blond.) The Sreab Erac appear in a variety of (to human eyes) brilliant colors like pink, lavender, yellow, orange, even blue and green. Many Sreab Erac dye their belly fur with colorful clan symbols.

The primary difference notable to humans is that the Sreab Erac are horribly violent and proud, notably they are prone to intense mood swings. Humans who encounter the Sreab are warned to guard their emotional reaction to the Sreab Appearance. Making high-pitched "Aww" noises and calling a Sreab Erac "Cute" or "Adorable" profoundly offends them and they are likely to respond violently. Most Sreab Erac are obsessed with the idea of the their personal honor, legacy, and heroism. To this end many are motivated to leave their homeworld in search of fortune in the "Higher Sky." Many Sreab Erac will bring a Sreab Yddet with them as a slave bard to record their heroic deeds, especially if they cannot find a willing group of Erac to be an adventuring party. The Sreab Erac claim to have subjugated the much calmer Sreab Yddet in the past. The few Yddet that have been interviewed do not seem to resent their place in life. Culturally, the Yddet seem to place great value on storytelling, listening, and loyalty.

Optional: Both subspecies of Sreab are known to exhibit minor telekinetic abilties that cause the nearby environment to reflect their moods. Sometimes this can result in colored light displays, the formation of highly localised small clouds and misty rain, strange discolorations, or even mood swings in other nearby sentients.

Rumors suggest that there is another subspecies called the Sreab Adliub who serve as engineers and workers on the Sreab Homeworld. This is unconfirmed.





Basic Concept: A real tiny cutie who resents that the rest of the universe finds them "cute" rather than terrifying.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Known by many names, but commonly referred to as "Proteans" by humans (and their closest allies), members of this alien species can resemble any other species of creature or plant. The resemblance is superficial, though, because there are always telltale signs that a Protean stands before you.

The first is that all Proteans of a given species appearance will look...blurry, for lack of a better term. All of the features are present, but fine details are lacking. Furthermore, any Protean of a given species appearance will look like one of @100 different, specific appearances (not counting color, attire, or carried/worn equipment) per gender (if the species has such) as if the form were cloned or otherwise chosen from a limited menu of options. For that reason, those variations will typically be called (again, among humans) "avatars" with a numerical designation. So a human-like Protean calling itself "Steve" will also have a "surname" like Male Avatar #47.

Also, within a given "avatar", all Proteans sound exactly the same. So Steve Male #47's voice will sound identical to Suzy Female #81's.

Proteans also appear to violate the known laws of physics. Proteans seem to require no nutrition. They consume no food or water, do not appear to photosynthesize, or take in sustinemce in any known way.

Furthermore, not only do Protean bodies look unfinished, they vary in size and mass from moment to moment in two ways. In the more stable or "resting" state, this oscillation is as regular as a pulse, and is identical to all Proteans regardless of species form or avatar. This oscillation has been measured at 93,000hz, so some other species can actually hear this. There is no indication as to whether Proteans are aware of this.

On top of that, Proteans can increase or decrease their physical dimensions by up to 50%, with all the expected attendant fluctuations of mass. No one has been able to determine where this mass is going to or coming from. This is all the more puzzling since, as noted, they do not seem to consume food or other energy sources to survive and grow.

One human researcher- Academician Ichiro MacDougal-Rosenstein III- had a theory as to Proteans' true nature, based on Edwin Abbott Abbott's Flatland. He posited that Proteans were not of our dimension, but were instead aliens from a higher dimension protruding down into ours. Like a cone passing through a plane of Flatlanders would appear as a circle or oval of various sizes to them, depending on its angle and depth of protrusion, Proteans vary in size depending on how much of the postulated alien is intruding into our dimension, and how. Any energy and mass required to do this is being supplied in the higher dimension.

The MacDougal-Rosenstein "Flatlander" Theory would also explain the last way in which Proteans break the laws of physics: Proteans seem to be able to teleport. Despite having no known technology to do so, Proteans can teleport- not quite intantaneously, and with obvious concentration and effort- over great and even interplanetary distances. As he put it, "It is as if you removed a stylus from a screen and simply touched it elsewhere on the same screen." Thus, Proteans have no known spacecraft...or homeworld, for that matter.
 
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AnimeSniper

Villager
I always like the C'Tarl C'tarl from the Outlaw Star anime and I remember one where the alien was a sentient telepathic cactus that made people eat at one Ice Cream stand instead of the other... from what few variants of the C'tarl C'tarl race I have saved I think it like a CRL of +4 or more.
 

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