Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Inirot

I'm not a big fan of humanoid alien races, or at least I prefer that, when possible, extraterrestrial beings not share many physical characteristics with human beings. That's why, in Thousand Suns, all the sample alien races look pretty weird, like these guys, the Inirot.
©2011 Alfredo Lopez Jr.

25 comments:

  1. Very cool. Is there an alien anatomy generation tool in Thousand Suns?

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  2. Yes, this is one of the reasons that I love Alien. And Ender's Game. Not just humans with makeup.

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  3. Personally, I don't mind humanoid races, as long as that fact is lampshaded and the very fact that there are so many similarly-designed intelligent species becomes one of the mysteries of the setting. Larry Niven's Known Space books, Traveler, and Star Trek all did this, to their betterment.

    Although, admittedly, it can get a little old when it keeps getting used.

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  4. I, for one, would have no problem blasting that thing. Nor with cracking it open and eating it - once boiled properly of course. Nice pic!

    But I find a universe filled with intelligent humanoids as plausible as anything else - why shouldn't evolution go there fairly commonly? As below, so above.

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  5. I always find "real" aliens tricky to pull off in games. People can make them as oddly non-humanoid as they can imagine, but then they often seem to end up having motivations and thought patterns (colonize the galaxy, engage in trade, have religions, etc...) similar to humans, which doesn't entirely make sense to me.

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  6. I agree: having a humanoid body doesn't mean evolution, which is something usually related to the envoriment the creature lives in.


    On a planet with a molten surface (like Venus or Mercury) it's more likely to have jumpers (creatures able to stand only for a few period on the surface, making huge jumps with a gaseous jet) or inflatable ones (balloon or dirigible shaped) than humanoids.

    Inflatable ones could be common also on windy/surfaceless planets like Jupiter.

    Just my 2 cents.

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  7. Looks very cool. How many alien races or "monsters" are written up, James? Or, put another way, how many pages are devoted to profiling or creating aliens?

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  8. Great artwork.
    I prefer a mix of humanoid and truly alien species in my sf. Niven's Known Space has already been mentioned -- the puppeteers are one of my faves. Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep" posits a galaxy with many, many alien species *and* lots of genetic tinkering.
    Are these aliens PC races or "monsters"? It's a real challenge to play a non-humanoid race as a player character.

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  9. I think humanoid aliens are so popular because players (or the audience in case of a TV show) can instantly recognize the alien as something intelligent, whereas dudes like the Inirot are more likely to be mistaken for animals or monsters.

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  10. Wow! Love that guy! Methinks he may have a few penalties when it comes to charisma rolls though. ;)

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  11. @Lay:

    ONLY for other, more humanoid aliens. After all, this buddy might be a pretty handsome Inirot :P

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  12. Looks a bit like Leiber's coleopteroid Martians.

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  13. I'm a huge fan of breaking away from the humanoid paradigm. Just a quick look a nature shows that evolution creates any number of interesting body plans.

    But I do hold to one rule for technological species. They have to be able to manipulate their environment in both large scale and in detail, and they have to come from an environment that would allow for the technological milestones like agriculture and learning to make metal tools.

    A species restricted to the oceans isn't going to master fire. A gas giant species isn't going to have anything to create tools from. So an intelligent, tool-using, species is going to need to met at least a loose set of design requirements.

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  14. @Jay: How do you think he sees us? All soft and pulpy, teetering around on two silly legs, can only look in one direction at a time? For all we know, that's an Inriot super model!

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  15. Is there an alien anatomy generation tool in Thousand Suns?

    The rulebook devotes an entire chapter to creating alien beings, both intelligent and unintelligent, and includes a random system for the generation of their basic structure and abilities. However, the system doesn't describe them in physical terms beyond high-level details like "carnivore" or "invertebrate" or whatever -- that's up to the GM. However, I do plan to offer such a system in a later book for those who like such things. I simply didn't have space in a 276-page 6 x 9 rulebook for something like this and felt it more important to keep the system basic to start.

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  16. How many alien races or "monsters" are written up, James? Or, put another way, how many pages are devoted to profiling or creating aliens?

    There are three fully detailed alien races for use as (N)PCs, plus the Inirot, who are intended as an example species that can be created using the rules in Chapter 12 for generating aliens. Chapter 12 is about 15 pages long, so it covers all the basics, though there's definitely room for expansion if the GM so desires.

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  17. Are these aliens PC races or "monsters"? It's a real challenge to play a non-humanoid race as a player character.

    The Inirot are intelligent beings and could be used as PCs, if so desired. However, they're included primarily as an example of a race created using the alien generation rules, as well as a plot hook, since their homeworld has been conquered and colonized by another alien species.

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  18. The important part of the Alien Anatomy Generation Rules:

    Roll d12: the alien has that many tentacles.

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  19. Awesome! I agree that there are too many humanoid aliens in most recent Sci-Fi writings, games and movies. But I'm not again a healthy mix.
    I recent years I really liked Mass Effect's Hanars and Elcors:
    http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Hanar
    http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Elcor

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  20. Of course, a real stickler in the exobiology department--a Carl Sagan, say--would tell you this fellow isn't much more alien than a human--the old "we literally can't imagine what they'd look like" saw. One I sympathize with...

    But personally I think this fellow's splendid.

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  21. Two great non-humaniod alien venues; the "Uplift" series by David Brin (in which a number of the aliens are entirely bizarre)and the Logic Factory space empire game "Ascendancy" which boasts gaseous, silicon and hydrogen based life forms. (They re-released this game for Apple IOS a few months back and it's ported extremely well. If you are looking for a turn based RTS with a unique interface and feel try it out).

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  22. Great image. Can't wait for the book. And I tend to ride the fence. The scientist side of me wants to have real alien, aliens, based on environment, etc. The gamer in me wants a bunch of fun variety that my players can latch on to and successfully play. So both sides work. When gaming, i like my hard scifi a little soft. Jsut seems funner.

    The non humanoid alien thing has really perplexed miniature manufacturers for those of us who wargame as well.

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  23. I remember a story of Asimov which he wrote as a criticism for humanoid alien stories "What is This Thing Called Love?", two aliens with a jelly like anatomy kidnaps a woman and a man, to see how they reproduce, the aliens reproduce by budding and one of the aliens tries to persuade the other one that these ugly organisms reproduce by combining their genetic material after physical copulation, the other one says that it is the most disgusting thing he has ever heard and it is impossible rest of the story pure fun...

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  24. Given a similar environment there is little reason why the gross physical evolution of a species wouldn't follow a similar path.

    Although personally I have a strong suspicion that most intelligent aliens in the universe will be those creatures that live along the shoreline (on either side of it). The ability to deal with a rapidly changing environment seems to be a heavily influence on both the development of memory and intelligence. Alternatives, such as octupi which need vast amounts of brain power to dextrously manipulate their limbs have the limitation that they require that brain power to actually do so. [The idea in Eclipse Phase that uplifted octupi can sometimes have their tentacles rebel and pursue independent activities is based heavily on current research.]

    The biggest problem is that physiologically we are suited to a very narrow band of environment. Biological and chemical differences are going to overwhelm gross physical differences when we meet aliens. [Frex, change the partial pressure of oxygen by just a little bit and we start to suffocate. Or get the bends.] It's almost certain that colonists in a non-Golden Age SF game would need to be "adapted" to cope with their new environment (or live in artificial habitats [including planets if your terraforming is good enough] all the time).

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  25. No matter one's view on what aliens should or shouldn't look like in a game, that is a great illustration. Very cool looking creature.

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