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Lloyd Dupont

Scifi story telling question

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Watching some youtube scifi stuff it struck me, once again, how there is almost NO (important) Aliens in Scifi shows.

In Star wars? Except for Yoda, most important characters are human (in the anime version there are more important Twilek! Yeah, Go Ashoka!)

In Star Trek... most are human again.. and the one other important one, Klingon, looks like human with some vague addition (I guess actors are human)

In my Master of Orion setting, I foresee that it will be search for the human! (to be fair most MoO playable race would be vaguely humanoid, even the Psilon look like thin greenish human with 4 arms)

But it struck me suddenly, maybe all human is on purpose! (other than it's easier for the actors) Viewer feels a better connection with human!
Now I wonder. Is my idea to go decidedly away from human a good idea?
(I did give the human an interesting "power", i.e. "cunning" or, in term of gameplay, 2 advantage rolls per game session, i..e reroll, on any skill, but I can foresee player being more attracted to psionic Elerian or strong Bulrathi or lethal Mrshan as character)

Edited by Lloyd Dupont

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4 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Watching some youtube scifi stuff it struck me, once again, how there is almost NO (important) Aliens in Scifi shows.

In Star wars? Except for Yoda, most important characters are human (in the anime version there are more important Twilek! Yeah, Go Ashoka!)

In Star Trek... most are human again.. and the one other important one, Klingon, looks like human with some vague addition (I guess actors are human)

In my Master of Orion setting, I foresee that it will be search for the human! (to be fair most MoO playable race would be vaguely humanoid, even the Psilon look like thin greenish human with 4 arms)

But it struck me suddenly, maybe all human is on purpose! (other than it's easier for the actors) Viewer feels a better connection with human!
Now I wonder. Is my idea to go decidedly away from human a good idea?
(I did give the human an interesting "power", i.e. "cunning" or, in term of gameplay, 2 advantage rolls per game session, i..e reroll, on any skill, but I can foresee player being more attracted to psionic Elerian or strong Bulrathi or lethal Mrshan as character)

You seem to have forgotten Chewbacca...  And Jabba.

Is Darth Maul "important" enough to count?

Mon Mothma is "important" in-universe, though not a major character in the movies.

But one of the persistent themes of the Empire in Star Wars is that they are racist assholes, so... aliens notsomuch.

 

In Trek, you forgot the Vulcan (and Romulan) lines in TOS.

Cardassians, Ferengi... I could go on and on!

Quite a few episodes of Trek were "new planet / new alien every week."

 

I think the "general" sci-fi issue is one of special F/X -- humans are just easier!  And famously, of course:  All Aliens are Humans with Rubber Foreheads.

 

And frankly, I think you've hit a VERY important issue with "it's easier for the actors" -- it's also easier for your players.  I am routinely disappointed with sci-fi RPG non-humans.  They ALL feel like RP'ing Humans with Rubber Foreheads... there aren't any that really seem alien.

I believe players like to play aliens, though; so you should likely include them... 

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I think we agree.. Alien are mostly human with rubber head! 😮 

But yeah, thanks for the encouragement, I'll keep the aliens! :)

I am trying to come up with a little quirk each.. something they particularly like or do... with emphasis on trying!  ^_^ 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont

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5 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Watching some youtube scifi stuff it struck me, once again, how there is almost NO (important) Aliens in Scifi shows.

Watch Babylon 5.

 

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Early commentary regarding the development of alien races in The Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society addressed this very topic, citing the alien suit with a zipper in back.  GDW was pretty good with their aliens.

I recommend the Uplift novels by David Brin.  They're remarkable in the development of aliens as outgrowths of their environment and unique culture.  Generally good reads, too.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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4 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

...

I recommend the Uplift novels by David Brin.  They're remarkable in the development of aliens as outgrowths of their environment and unique culture.  Generally good reads, too.

Seconded.

My absolute favorite (I consider it one of the all-time great sci-fi novels) is Startide Rising.

 

Also worth reading are Cherryh's "Chanur" novels, beginning with Pride of Chanur.

 

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2 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Somehow.. I missed the Ian's author reference... But thanks G33k for highlighting him! ^_^
Reading about it Wikipedia! :) 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Brin

In the Uplift'verse, Humanity (along with "Uplifted" (genetically & surgically enhanced to human-like sapience) chimps, dolphins, etc) gets into interstellar space, where they encounter "Galactic Civilization" (actually "five galaxies"), comprised of a multitude of alien races.

Unifying all these races is the common practice of Uplift -- finding pre-sapient / proto-sapient species, and Uplifting them to be spacefaring citizen-sophonts.  It is more than mere "practice," though:  it has become the overriding ethos, even a religion.  Some races have become aggressive and even militant about the issue.

Uplifted species trace their ancestry back uncounted millennia, via multiple "generations" of species who uplifted species who uplifted species, to an original "Progenitor" race a billion or more years ago:  nobody can really be sure (as a species ages its power waxes and then wanes... sometimes into degeneracy and extinction... sometimes into transcendence... and sometimes the more-active species cannot be sure which is which!) .

In fact, Uplift is the universal and overriding reality of civilization:  every race Uplifts others; every race is Uplifted themselves.   Every. Race. (remember this!)   The senior, uplifting race is called a "Patron" and the junior race(s) are "Clients."  Client races "pay" their Patron (for the privilege of being Uplifted) with millenia of service to their Patrons.

Humanity bursts onto the Galactic scene like a minor bombshell.  Are we really a "wolfling" race, evolved on our own?  Or are we "feral," partway-uplifted (and then criminally-abandoned) by another race?  Only the fact that humans have, themselves, uplifted other species (making us a de facto Patron species) prevents humanity from being helplessly assigned to another race as Clients... to be genetically modified to suit that species designs and desires, and their judgement as to what is "better..."  and millenia of racial servitude.  If it could be proven that we were abandoned as a partly-Uplifted race, our "Patron" status would be invalidated, and all the Earth-born sophonts (including Humans) would be reassigned as Client species.

Generally, Humanity is at the mercy of the Galactics:  their tech is so far advanced, their numbers so vastly greater, that should they decide to make Clients of us, we'd be helpless to resist.

There's a bunch more to the 'verse, of course... novels and novels worth.

Hopefully this precis helps.

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Any sci fi by Ursula K LeGuin is good in that while her aliens might resemble humans they act according to alien feelings and motivations. Well as well as a human can make an alien act like an alien anyway.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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Well.. after being stuck for one long weekend on that topic I gave up coming with generic and reusable adventure ideas (like rowing monsters bands or mad wizard army), really doesn't fit with a successful space civilisation in my mind... except perhaps space pirates on the fringes...

 

Got 5 adventures ideas to knit together so far...
trying to avoid space civilisation war themes.. but I do have one war adventure, where the players planet is invaded though ^^

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2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Any sci fi by Ursula K LeGuin is good in that while her aliens might resemble humans they act according to alien feelings and motivations. Well as well as a human can make an alien act like an alien anyway.

BTW, despite my questions, I tend to believe alien that that have a human like psychology more than 'strange alien'.

Hey, evolution is such that most life form have similar imperatives... I reckon...

But.. I should check that out as much as possible... Probably have some good idea lurking anyway! in Ursula writing anyway :D 
 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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1 minute ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

After some googling... I found that Ursula Le Guin has a blog!

Alas, one of my favourite authors and heroes had a blog. She passed into the silent lands a few years back. 

So, based on her getting into the head of a cat, you should see why i sing her praises as one who could get into the head of an alien, no?

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3 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Alas, one of my favourite authors and heroes had a blog. She passed into the silent lands a few years back. 

So, based on her getting into the head of a cat, you should see why i sing her praises as one who could get into the head of an alien, no?

Mmm... you might have made a good point right there! 😮 :D 

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Also (though it's sufficiently famous that I hardly dare suggest anyone here may not have read it) The Mote in God's Eye  by Niven & Pournelle.

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21 hours ago, g33k said:

Also (though it's sufficiently famous that I hardly dare suggest anyone here may not have read it) The Mote in God's Eye  by Niven & Pournelle.

Yes that is an excellent exploration of not only a truly alien race with alien motivations, but an excellent look at first contact. Good call! Oh and to match your criteria the aliens (nicknamed moties wasn’t it?) are not second fiddle, alas not first fiddle either, co-protagonists, perhaps?

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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Also... read any of Iain M Banks Culture novels. His aliens are extremely different in terms of physiology, psychology, and ecosystem. Larry Niven's aliens are also truly alien: Pierson's Puppeteers, Trinocs, Thrintun, and especially Protectors.

There's a wealth of truly alien aliens out there.

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