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I remember the first time I read the rules for alien creation in Traveller - I had so high expectations and was so disappointed. Warning - Long Post! So, now I have been working on my own system for creating alien life forms, and here is the first draft of it. Or rather, the fourth complete system. It proved to be much more difficult than I expected. First of all I wanted to avoid aliens shaped after earth's animals - quite easy to come up with, but very unlikely. Reading up on what we currently know about the principles of alien life (next to nothing), extremophiles, self-replicating systems and evolutionary concepts opened up way too many possibilities. Returning to some of my favorite sci-fi games, I found inspiration to trim away the surplus complexity. This is the framework that remains. All feedback is very welcome. Rules updated and included in BRP Starships 2.2 (see Download section). Universal life form parameters 1. Strangeness: 1-10, where 1 represents Earth-like, 5 Alien and 10 Really strange. The strangeness parameter adds a good over all picture when interpreting the results in the creation process. 2. Define something about the biosphere, and the universals that apply to all beings on the planet due to their hereditary to each other. Environmental characteristics: Write down 1-3 main parameters in the ecosystem, either from a world already created, or make some up. Biodiversity: Define how rich life on the planet is. Default is 1 sessile (plant) group, 2 motile (animal) groups. High biodiversity: +1 sessile, +1d4 motile. Low : 1 of each. 3. Body plans: Working as a generic blueprints for all beings, with separate body plans for the different motiles and sessiles. Roll these five for each group: - Size: Sub-1, 1-6, 7-15, 16-20, 21-30, 31-50, 51-75, 75-100, 100+ - Frame: Endo Skeleton, Exo-skeleton, No frame - Symmetry: Bilateral, asymmetrical, radial, spherical - Limbs: 0-100+. 0-10 zero 11-30 two 31-50 three 51-80 four 81-90 five to eight 91-00 1d100 - Segmentation: 1-4 segments. In body, limbs and/or organs. Universals (1d3): Roll or pick some traits that are general to all beings in a body plan group. (Use Advantages lower down if more variation is needed). Fur Intelligence Defensive weapons Flight Sense organs (often close to the brain) Stages of life, 1d4+1* Sexes, 1d4+1 Mouth (for intake of energy) Sun light or heat converted into energy *=create one being for each stage (more or less similar to each other). Life forms With universals defined, the actual alien is to be detailed. It is recommended to create a handful of beings, filling different roles in the ecosystem. Decide which body plan group the being belongs to, the primary motile group is probably the one most commonly encountered by characters. Define the role it plays in the ecosystem: Classification and habitat (forest trapper for example) Producer (plant), Herbivore (Grazer, Filter feeder) Omnivore (Gatherer, Scrounger), Carnivore (Ambusher, Chaser, Pouncer, Raider, Stalker, Trapper) Habitat (roll multiple times for interesting combinations): Water/Pool/Lake/Sea Stream/River Shore/Reeds Plain/Meadow/Open Tundra Semi-open Bushes Forest/Tree Underground/Cave Desert/Dunes/Arid Wetland Ice/Snow/Glacier Mountain Rocky Size modifier: +/-1d2. Here on earth, elephants and mice belong to the same body plan group, with size being perhaps the most striking difference. Advantages (1d3): These are the specifics that have kept the being alive through the ages. Perception: Choose 1d3 senses that are heightened. Fast: High DEX and/or Movement Flight: Gas bag, wings, glide Camouflage/Hide/Stealth: Appearance or Skill Climb: Natural ability (like sticky feet) or Skill Second habitat Second atmosphere Tool user Fine Manipulation: Fingers, toes, lips, ears, tails, tentacles Sharp: Thorns, teeth, claws, beak, horns. Armor Poison Builder Communication: Simple, Complex (ape, whale, dolphin, bee), Language Psionics/Psionic Immunity Extra Sense: 1d3 extra. Heat, bacteria, movement, electricity, magnetism (compass), specific chemicals High Intelligence Art (the drive to tell others about their experiences in various forms) Disadvantages (1d3): Some of the problems the being are struggling with, or that makes it more vulnerable. Immobile Fragile Slow Rare/Vulnerable habitat Hunted Disease-ridden Affected by pollution Eggs/Cubs Internal Conflicts Hierarchy/Obedient Missing one of the senses Hibernation Behaviour: In Harmony, Curious, Patient, Watchful, Suspicious, Hiding, Afraid, Easily Angered, Aggressive, Detached. Social: Single, Pair, Small Group, Herd (small to swarm), Special (Parasite, Symbiotic). K-strategists or R-strategists (producing only a few off-spring and caring for them, or producing many and not caring for them). Forms of communication: Sound, scent, sight (light, color, signs), tactile, psi, chemical. Natural weapons (default damage): Bite (1d6+/-db) Claw (1d6+/-db) Punch/kick (1d3+/-db) Grapple (1d3+/-db) Crush (1d3+/-db) Throw (1d3+/-db) Horn (1d3+/-db) Sting (1d3+/-db) Electricity (from Surprised to 3d6) Poison (from rash to 4d6) Base chance: Primary weapon: Easy 20%+DEX, Medium 40%+DEX, Hard 60%+DEX. Carnivores +10%. Secondary/Third weapons at 20-40%. Calculating characteristics: STR: Roughly equivalent to SIZ. If fragile, half of SIZ. CON: Two thirds of SIZ. If fragile, one third of SIZ. SIZ: see above INT: Animal 3-7, High 16+, Mindless feeder/producer 0-2 POW: Animal 10, Psionic 16+, Mindless feeder/producer 0 DEX: Slow 1-5, Immobile 0, Fast 20+ APP: >3d6 striking, awe-inspiring, beautiful. <3d6 ugly. APP is always at -10 at first contact. EDU: Animal/Plant 0, Intelligent primitives 5+, Organized society 10+. Movement: Normal 8-12, Slow <5, Fast 18+. Two values if the being can move in two different atmospheres (air and water for example) Appearence (Optional): Hopefully the above process has given enough insights to make it possible to conjure an image of the alien being. If further input is needed, roll or pick on the tables below. Start with descriptive terms for the whole being, and if needed, continue with specific body parts or even sense organs. Go through Posture and Surface in the same way. Keep the overall picture of the being (from the results above) in mind all the time, to find interesting combinations. Descriptive: Massive Slender Pear-shaped Long Flat Bent Split Bulbous Hammer-shaped Boxy Ridged Crystalline Slithering Fat Wedge-shaped Spindle Retractable Hollow Bony/Angular Posture: Upright Horizontal Diagonal Bent Crooked Surface: Fur (short, long) Skin (smooth, coarse AC 1-2) Scales (AC 1-5) Chitinous (AC 1-3) Transparent/semi-transparent Patched Feathers Ornamented