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  1. This week, we will be looking at the aliens of M-Space. I'm not going to lie; you're going to have to take notes. This chapter deals with the basic biological blueprints for creating real, strange aliens, rather than the bumpy-headed humanoids you know and love from TV and movie science fiction (or fantasy, for that matter). There's a lot to take in. What is your world's biosphere like? How and where did your alien species evolve, and why did they evolve? What makes your designed species unique? And how do these rules translate into being able to use the alien creation rules as chargen rules, the same way as Mythras just presents you with the tweaks for how to chargen an individual from a creature template? Strangeness The first universal factor is Strangeness. This imposes a penalty to interactions with members of that species. The higher the Strangeness, the harder it gets to interact with the aliens meaningfully. Strangeness: 1-100, where 1 represents Earth-like, 50 Alien and 100 Really strange. The Strangeness parameter adds a good overall picture when interpreting the dice rolls in the creation process. A low Strangeness value will indicate small variations on concepts well-known on Ear th (physiology, behaviour, culture). A high value means you should interpret many of the results as differing wildly from what’s common here. A later sidebar points out that it also affects First Aid and Medicine rolls, using alien technology and so on. Biosphere The next part of this chapter can appear daunting to the first time GM or player. Some might wonder whether it is necessary to generate the alien species' homeworld's biosphere, biodiversity, and other details. The greater the Strangeness, however, the weirder the biosphere. "My ancestors spawned in another ocean than yours," and so on. An example of Strangeness acting as a barrier to communication is Ursula K Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, and the Gethen. Another example of high Strangeness was Ted Chiang's "Story Of Your Life" which became the movie Arrival (2016). Strangeness, and the overcoming of it, was the theme of the story. Yet other authors such as N K Jemisin and Octavia Butler have approached alien contact in their own stories. The section details things such as the rough size of mature alien individuals, their Frame (endoskeleton, exoskeleton, or squidgy), their Symmetry, Limbs, Segmentation, and classifications such as Grazer, Pouncer or Trapper. Next are Habitat, Advantages, Disadvantages, Life Span, Communications, Natural Weapons, and then on to Characteristics. There's a section on how the aliens appear, and the difference between low-powered and high-powered aliens. Tech levels can be determined by average species INT. It takes a minimum level of INT to sustain a species' average Tech Level. Next to follow is Cultures, and the range of cultures available to the species; Law Level, Tech Level, cultural values, such as beliefs, taboos and so on; conflicts; population density; and a host of other details. This chapter is, at the very least, exhaustive. Seriously, it covers so much - right down to little things such as the aliens' foreign policy, and individual alien characters' Passions. It doesn't go as far as asking what cutlery they use and whether they pass the port to the left or the right, but the alien creation chapter leaves very little else out. My recommendation is to go to the part which describes the aliens' physical forms first - size, shape, behaviours - then characteristic ranges, INT range, corresponding TL. Leave much of the rest to later episodes, where you can run the equivalent of Amok TIme and Journey To Babel or similar Star Trek episodes. Or something out of Stargate SG-1, Farscape and so on. TL;DR: You don't need all of this if you just want the basics, like creating a psionic species which looks like sea urchins on pointy little legs, or a species of generic bumpy headed humanoids who speak perfect English but who are green skinned or have cybernetics and so on. Worldbuilding Here's where a lot of attention tends to focus, next to the ships and starship combat, and the physical combat between characters. Anyone who played Traveller will know how much fun it is to create solar systems. It's almost as much fun as designing starships, or playing the trade game, or designing alien species, or wait ... Okay, alien species building is a subgame in and of itself. Use the Worldbuilding chapter first to design your systems, and then conjure your biospheres and dominant sentient species. You do need your imagination. A lot of imagination. And perhaps a lot of borrowing from your library of SF books. Do you want a planet of all Odd Johns? A world which was successfully taken over by the species which chose Earth in John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos? Do you want a planet which is tearing itself apart because they have discovered a lichen which yields an immortality serum which only works on one marginalised segment of society, but which kills the affluent? Here's where you come in. If you're familiar with Traveller worldbuilding, you will find the process familiar. You begin with the star or stars in the system, then a number of planets. One of those worlds really should be in the habitable zone if it is to be suitable for native life, and for humanoid characters to be able to live on the surface of the world. Again, you can design your worlds' size, atmosphere, hydrographic percentage, and so on, just as if you were going through this process with Traveller. The next part is mapping out the star systems. You can use the Traveller system of subsector and sector hex grids, or find your own system. Hex grid maps are given in this core rulebook (as well as Odd Soot), and the short chapter ends with blank sheets for hex grids and systems, as well as a filled example. Wow The information in both these chapters is pretty dense. First timers might find it difficult to get through. M-Space really needs some examples of species creation to show the readers how it's all done. Let's start with the Pelacur, who are a humanoid species. Strangeness: Let's make this 20%. They are a little bit weird, but generally they look and act kind of like humans. Biosphere: Their world is a garden world, with a broad range of biomes, as diverse as old Terra. Maybe a little more so. More exotic jungles, not so many deserts. Mountains, rainforests, temperate inhabited regions. A great diversity of different Pelacur physical types. Frame and Symmetry: Endoskeletal, bipedal, bilateral symmetry. Classification: Omnivore Gatherer. Habitat: Like humans, these can be found everywhere. Advantages: Enhanced Senses (smell, taste, touch), Psionic, Poison (see below), Enhanced Charisma (see below) Disadvantages: Eggs, Hibernation Poison: Pelacur secrete a pheromone which befuddles most other species, increasing oxytocin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine levels. It makes most humanoid aliens become dopey in love with them. Enhanced Charisma: As for 95-00, Intelligence or High Intelligence, but for CHA. Appearance: They look roughly like this. These are the clearest pics I could get of Proteus, the Homo eximia antagonist of Bryan Talbot's graphic novel The Legend of Luther Arkwright. The Pelacur looked like this before The Legend of Luther Arkwright ever came to being. Sexes: Pelacur only really have the one gender. Binary genders confuse them, but they have adapted to the binary species from other worlds in the centuries they have been starfaring. Arts: Pelacur appreciation for art is as profound as that of humans. They adopt human styles and art, though they retain their own music and poetry. Behaviour: In Harmony, Social (small groups). Communication: Scent, Body Language, Language, Telepathy. Characteristics: Physically, slightly higher than human average CON; high POW; very high CHA. Appearance: Naturally hairless except for eyebrows, eyelashes. Slightly translucent skin; when irritated, you can see blood in individual capillaries in the face and body. Larger eyes in proportion to the head. Large irises, smaller pupils but more room for expansion (can see better in low light conditions). Tech Level: Actually higher than you would imagine. Pelacur do not have ships of their own. They travel on other species' ships, humans in particular. What is generally not known is that they invented their own FTL drives independently, but abandoned their own FTL in favour of becoming travellers and wanderers in other species' vessels. If pressed, they could resume shipbuilding - and their vessels would exceed the best TL humans could ever offer. Their homeworld is a TL 17 paradise, but no humans have ever been permitted to learn of its location, let alone visit. Technology Areas include Chemistry, Communication, Economics, Medicine, and an Unusual Technology (advanced teleportation capable of operating over thousands of light years). Details of their homeworld remain unknown, but Pelacur colonies are terraformed paradises, with vast green spaces growing between elegant, labyrinthine arcologies. Food: They can eat what humans eat, but once in a while they require a dietary supplement - a pill, taken monthly. Any human who takes that pill dies. Lifespan: Nobody has ever seen a Pelacur die of old age. Nobody even knows if Pelacur age at all. Perhaps it's those damned pills they take ... So that's it for the Alien Creation and Worldbuilding chapters. Next week, we look at Circles and Psionics - oh, and I'll be taking a sneak peek at the Circles rules for Odd Soot, with a promise to give them a much greater, in depth look when I get to that rulebook (hopefully, about the time of the release of the first Odd Soot campaign book, due out soon ...)
  2. For many years I’ve thought about how to design believable aliens. When we’ve only seen life on Earth, how can we even begin to imagine the otherworldly? Aren’t we predicted to just come up with variations on existing species? I realised a new approach was needed. I wanted to break my ingrained views of what an alien looks like. Around the same time, I explored the concept of science fiction in the 1920s. I dreamed of propelling humanity to the stars, decades earlier than in the real world. I wanted to combine these ideas – so I created something new. My next game – called Odd Soot – takes place on an alternate Earth in the 1920s and explores what might have happened if space travel had existed back then. And specifically, what aliens would look like in the 1920s. Here’s a sneak preview of the cover - and I'll be back with more soon.
  3. I am in the process of creating a space-opera-like setting for use with M-Space, but with my own twists that lead away from that Traveller-like setting assumption. At the moment, I have a couple of vague ideas for some of my aliens, remnants of cool concepts I laid down some 35 years ago as a teenager who hadn't even heard of roleplaying games (in Germany...) but did his world building and solo-roleplaying nonetheless. At the time, Lego produced models for a hard-SF line I couldn't afford, and they published a booklet with models suggesting at integrating a more space-opera setting. A couple of panels with Lego manikins whose heads or body parts were replaced with some of the less regular building blocks, possibly adding a few extras. I looked at those, and was sold, and started to develop the setting on paper rather than with building blocks. It was the time of Star Wars, so of course my setting then was about rebels against an imperium that I never really defined but that had vast military resources, and significantly more scruples than the Star Wars one. German TV also offered Space 1999 with its underground Lunar base, so that was another influence at the time. Over time, I added what insights I gathered in scientific facts and impossibilities to reduce the amounts of handwavium and unobtainium in my setting. So there was this militaristic human culture suppressing free traders and nonhumans with the trappings of armor and elaborate helmets, aided and abetted by a profit oriented Galactic Mining mega corporation operating both inside and outside of the empire, which sometimes proved a neutral ground, imperial citizens or corporations trading at neutral or empire-associated nonhuman spaceports, and of course the “us”, the human rebels and their nonhuman sidekicks and allies. I never really dropped that concept, but upon receiving the German translation of Classic Traveller about 8 years later I couldn’t really get warm with that system and its basically incompetent, one trick characters. (Nobody told or showed me how to use that system as a narrative though crunchy game rather than a simulationist one until decades later.) So, there are these concepts of two humanoid alien races that I need to stat out. Help and advice appreciated, and somebody might be interested in using them in a different setting. “Blue Ones” One of the allies was a minor multi-planetary species of humanoids inhabiting oxygen- and water-rich planets in the Goldilocks zone of blue giants – one distant binary, and at least another smaller one in the same region. The species had inhabited those different planets for long enough to develop speciation. I never came to define their own name for their people, or the official catalogue name, I simply called them Blue Ones. The inhabitants of Gatesea and Gateland (two captured rocky planets with very active biosphere, surface gravities of 0.95 and 0.89, 90% and 50% of the surface covered by liquid water, high humidity, about 30% diatomic oxygen and 2% ozone in the atmosphere at surface levels, and carbon dioxide levels varying between 0.01 and 3% depending on the day/night cycle) were native to Gateland, had colonized and bioformed Gatesea with organisms from their homeworld’s land mass and part of the seas (retaining some of the non-sapient, mostly compatible biosphere there) with slowships, and had established another slowship colony (out of focus of my main activities) around that other blue giant star, the Exos with significantly different appearance, and adaptation to a gravity of 1.1 and somewhat lower ozone and less humid atmosphere. These guys could work in human environment using breath masks, and vice versa, although humans needed a lot extra protection from ultraviolet radiation and the bleaching effects of ozone. Blue Ones and Exos ended up as endo-skeleton bipeds with two multi-jointed arms each ending in two opposed sets of four likewise multy-jointed fingers, ellipsoid heads with a ring of sensory organs, including four eyes – one to each side with 190 degrees coverage, and a pair to the front with 120 degrees coverage mostly overlapping to the front. Orifices are located at the lower slope of the skull – two sets of somewhat extendable teethed mouths between the forward and sideward eyes, and venting slits beneath the eyes. Their skeleton is based on two multi-jointed interior columns extending plate-like ribs enclosing the upper and lower torso, leaving the center of the torso open for a belly similar to the human belly. A central channel is framed by bone plates providing hinges between these two columns, sheltering three separate strings of neural tissue regulating motor functions, vegetative functions, and communication with the neural tissue inside the basket of bone plates forming the skull. This basic architecture obviously needs to be reflected in the native endoskeletal animals of Gateland (and those that colonized Gatesea and the Exo planets in an interstellar variant of the Columbian exchange, brought along by the Blue Ones). Metabolic rates of the lifeforms on these three homeworld planets (and in their lesser colonies established more recently) are high. Their circulatory system is driven by two separate hearts very similar to mammalian ones. Their blood transports the oxygenating agents in form of complex bound oxygen and as small organic peroxide esters. The peroxide mechanism is used for peak activities, with peroxide esters deposited in cellular caches during low activity periods, while the complex bound oxygen provides the background level of body maintenance. Cellular membranes must deal with this constant onslaughts of peroxides and radicals. That either means modifications to the phospholipids used by all Terran organisms with a very high regeneration rate or a different, more resilient approach to forming a flexible and extendible cell membrane. Whichever nature these changes have, Terran-descended organisms can consume Gateland-descended organisms (they will need to deal with any stored peroxides, which will be consumed internally if those cells are subject to stress), and vice versa. On a cellular level, organisms from Gateland and Gatesea are compatible. Outside of the cells, both plant and animal life use cellulose, hemicellulose and proteins for their connective tissue, and what we would call modified starch alongside with starch for fast access fuel storage. Vegetation on Gateland is very active, compared to Terran vegetation. Most plants recede their sunlight collectors (usually frondy leaves) at night and reduce their area during the most intense radiation of noon, or they have permanent hard photosynthetic organs that can activate protective chromophores to shield the cells from too intensive irradiation. Plants collect peroxide esters synthesized from ozone, too, and power their motive processes with this metabolism. Blue Ones and other endoskeletal lifeforms native to Gateland maintain a rather constant body temperature in the range between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius (303 to 313 K). At rest, they tend to remain at the lower range, while activity can bring up their motive apparatus up to 50°C (about 320K), which needs to be dissipated quickly. Evaporation is their preferred cooling method, somewhat hindered by the high humidity, but boosted by adding low boiling esters from special glands in phases of high activity (the by-product of using up the stored peroxide esters). Sweating Blue Ones smell of mouthwash and cheap perfume, laced with pheromones similar to those in human sweat. The quadruped life-forms of Gateland share the multi-jointed extremities of the sapients, and their somewhat disk-shaped sensory skulls above their orifices, which display huge variations between different dietary requirements, and generally are larger than those of the bipedal sapients. A lot of the animals move in semi-upright stance, with the forelimbs providing ground contact only in very slow or very fast gaits. Their jointed spines support dorsal flexibility like that of small cats or weasels, allowing for some fast gaits where the body appears to contract and elongate. They don’t have tails but rather flat dorsal extensions, some with rigid bone plants supporting a muscular counterweight quasi-limb capable of vertical movement adding momentum to jumps and buffering momentum on landings, developed from a flat dorsal fin of distant aquatic forebears, and re-used for that function by amphibious variants returning to the wet element. The truly bipedal Blue Ones retain this as a rather atrophied remnant that receives much of their weight when sitting in a rather curled stance. Variants with atrophied limbs have evolved adapted to water, but usually land dwellers returning to a watery habitat revert to enlarged hind digits supporting muscular flippers. Aerial fauna exists on Gateland and marine subspecies successfully adapted to Gatesea as well. The endoskeletal variants come in several variants: The dominant aerial variant adapted half of their digits on all four limbs to chiroptera-like (batlike) wings, employing the remaining digits for grabbing prey or food; one variant using both sets of digits on their forelimbs to support frondy hollow scales that can be rotated individually along both sides of the digits, creating a feather-like extension of the elongated digits, allowing for a fluttering hovering flight with both stationary and dashing modes; and finally one variant with elongated hollow rib-bones extending out, supporting skins attached to both fore- and hind-limbs allowing gliding flight. Herbivores are divided among browsers snatching bits from the frondy green during daytime, whether long-necked, flying, or climbing, the more destructive cracker and diggers going after the sheaths the fronds retreat into, and seed and fruit gatherers. Due to the high metabolism rates of the autotrophs, the calcium hydrogen carbonate concentrations in the water drop to extremely low levels, leading to an absence of calcite exoskeletons for invertebrates. Silicacious shells or polsaccharid take ths role, as do ligament proteins. They too sport paired orifices, inherited form primitive worms which employed paired sets of cutting tools which developed into separate orifices rather than a single one, and which continued as the motive structure of these worms, and of subsequent arthropods, most of which resemble two-ridged centipedes or crabs. Aerial arthropods don’t use wings but webs of silk spun around a few pairs of elongated legs. Technology: Blue Ones prefer disk-shaped spaceship design with a vertical acceleration vector for constant acceleration and sidewards dashing using lateral thrusters for quick maneuvers. This design was inherited from the gondolas of their slower-than-light solar sailing vessels that carried their colonists. These ships use weak warp drive for intra-system mobility, but rely on the classical jump drive for interstellar travel. Due to their dependance on hard radiation stars for their atmosphere and their plant lifeforms, they usually don’t use reefs or mobile slowlife platforms. In multi-species parties, Blue Ones are valued for their keen perception abilities – not so much the quality of their optical and acoustic apparatus as their cognitive system evaluating that information. They value perception highly and produce some of the most advanced telemetry systems available. Other specialities include surveillance, quality testing and fault detection. Kurus Kurus are another bipedal species from my early attempts at designing aliens, inspired by the same sources as the Blue Ones and Exos. The Kuru homeworld and their planetary colonies were devastated by a giant supernova about 1500 standard years ago, but they managed to use the few decades of warning their FTL ability gave them to evacuate their population and significant amounts of samples of their planetary biota before the catastrophe struck, thanks to their natural ability to hibernate, which they augmented with their technology. They have since led a nomadic life, collecting resources from interstellar space, uninhabited systems, and trading with planetary races. The loss of their homeworlds has caused a species-wide trauma. Kurus feel trapped on planets and require their habitats to be FTL capable. They do maintain more or less permanent outposts in the systems they claim for resource collection and they maintain trading outposts with extraterritorial status at major trading nexi. The Kuru homeworld was a rock planet captured as the distant satellite of a gas giant during an inward shift in an otherwise unremarkable K-primary system. The capturing by the gas giant caused a major extinction event on the planet due to the tidal forces bringing increased tectonic activity, but the atmosphere and a sufficient sample of the biosphere survived these changes and managed to adapt to the rather eccentric orbit of the gas giant which carried the planet beween the extremes of a rather comfortable warm Goldilocks distance to their primary to the coldest extremes of said Goldilocks zone, where only the exothermal qualities of the gas giant prevented the atmosphere from freezing out. The Kuru culture huddled around volcanic vents during the coldest phases, or went into hibernation. Kuru biochemistry is remarkably similar to Terran biochemistry, but has much higher salinity and requires a slightly different spectrum of trace minerals. Physically, the Kurus are most notable for their antlers bearing a variety of sensory organs on a broad head dominated by two huge nasal ridges, each reminiscent of the snouts of saiga antelopes. A pair of eyes on a protruding muscular mass is situated above the nose ridge, allowing bifocal front sight and good peripheral coverage. Their beaked orifice holds several arrays of specialized dentition embedded directly in muscle tissue. The sensory stalks on the antlers carry a range of chemical and acoustic receptors. They have an endo-skeleton of lightweight hollow bones, surrounded by a regular muscular apparatus and a second layer of musular tissue supporting a quasi-exoskeleton of cartilagenous scales and a down-covered dermis which they can extend over these scales or retreat into a compact fold between the scales. Another well (durchblutet) dermis can be unfolded above this downy dermis and the scales, providing efficient cooling despite the thick double layer of muscle tissue. Their hands have three opposed pairs of digits in 90 degree opposition, with a claw-like protrusion on their third segment of the fingers. On their feet, these act similar to hooves. The biological ancestors of the Kurus were opportunistic scavengers, able to dig out hibernating prey out of frozen dirt or ice, but also taking advantage of the rich plant life that exploded regularly when the planet returned into the pleasant regions of the Goldilocks zone. Inhabiting a K-star system, the Kurus took to the slowlife reefs (one of my setting premises, possibly a leftover from a precursor civilization) with a vengeance as soon as they managed to overcome their gravity well. With habitats of their highly productive plant life available during the cold seasons of the gas giant, their population exploded, and their domesticated biosphere adapted to microgravity. Those organisms that had adapted too well to the massive climate change required hibernation periods, too, which led to the Kurus towing reefs into more eccentric orbits, or equipping mobile slowlife as agricultural platforms. Kuru plant life’s atmospheric requirements have an optimal range of 30 millibar carbon dioxide, 5 millibar methane, 1 millibar N2O, 170 millibar oxygen and at least 300 millibar nitrogen partial pressure, with a total pressure of 700 millibar or higher preferred. This corresponds to the spring conditions of their lost homeworld, when the great melt would start plant life going into overdrive. Fruit bearing season would see a massive depletion of carbon in the atmosphere and a higher oxygen level. Coincidentally, this is the preferred atmospheric composition for Kuru habitat sections. Kuru society is very conservative. This is due to the fact that a huge portion of their population still spends a lot of time in suspended hibernation. At any time you will find a few first generation evacuees among the Kuru crews, taking terms to get up to date with current technology and society before returning to hibernation. A few hibernation fleets are known to park at distant Oort cloud objects, producing batches of returnees regularly while receiving returnees to take their turns in hibernation. Since hibernation has a natural rejuvenating effect, there is a steady stream of volunteers taking their turns in cold sleep. It isn’t known how many such hibernation vessels exist, or how many Kuru fleets operate outside of human or other civilizations’ radar. The portion of non-hibernating Kurus is slowly growing as the Kurus work on creating self-sufficient habitat fleets for all of their species. While the Kurus don’t operate reef and slowlife agriculture any more, they still provide seeding and initialization of reef colonies, and are welcome trading partners and development contractors for the human reefer culture, willing to join in their barter and favor economy. They are interested in buying biomass, and in contracting seed production.
  4. With M-space out. Thought thought it would be fun to roll up some alien races from Alien section. Add whatever other info you think necessary to really give them depth. Some of the questions I ask myself so they don't feel flat or one-dimensional are? Technology lvl?Home planet gravity and conditions.Unique inventions?What are they look like?Their size compared humans?Motivations?Society norms?Most common societal structures?Most common habits?Family matriarchal /patriarchal /monogamous /do they raise there children?Courtship /mate for life /Mate and run /mate and get eaten / mate and die?how is the next-generation raised?Nutritional requirements?Habitable temperature range?Their view on other alien races?Natural instincts?Natural talents?Learned behaviors?Religious believes?what do they breathe?sleep cycles?Body support structure?Unique organs? Biological senses?Biological defense?Biological weaknesses?Biological cycles?Most offensive actions ?What is considered honorable and dishonorable?Most respectful actions?What crimes do they find most heinous ?Lifespan?Life cycles?There swearwords?How do they communicate?How aggressive or passive?Preferred type of government? And if there's more questions that would add interesting flavor when creating a alien race list those as well.
  5. Version 1.0.0


    I was running a BRP Star Wars campaign using the rules downloaded from BRP Central. I needed a few more alien creatures, so I used a Perl script to convert the Warhammer 40000 statlines (M, WS, BS ... etc) to BRP. I've tried to keep the layout to a similar format to the BGB. Hopefully some will find this useful. Colin
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