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Thread: Truly alien aliens

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    Truly alien aliens

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    Anyone know any good sources/ideas for aliens that are truly alien? Not humans with rubber foreheads or green-skinned space babes, not anthropomorphic dogs/cats/lizards/insects/plants, not bug-eyed monsters conquering the universe for no good reason, not the typical "ascended being" which is essentially a spirit or god from an FRP with different terminology ... but something with truly strange but plausible physiology with a mindset to match.

    Examples: the Vorlons from Bablylon 5 (arguably "ascended", but truly mysterious in the first few seasons), the Elder Things from the Cthulhu Mythos (OK, the physiology is a bit whacked), the Nunclees from Traveller.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    I remember finding a really good open-content science fiction world with a slew of well-thought out different concepts and definitions pertaining to the different types of life that could exist in the universe. I just spent a few minutes searching the web for it and can't find it though. But it's out there, somewhere. I remember it having an AI/futurism slant to it, with different words/concepts for:

    - Life that evolved "naturally"
    - Life that was created artificially via biomolecular programming
    - Intelligences of different levels
    - Simulated life vs. "real" life

    and a ton of stuff. I remember reading through it for about an hour thinking: there's a lot of conceptual exploration that's been done to put this together.

    If someone does find it (I don't even know what it was called--I should have bookmarked it...) please post!

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    For that matter, there's "Atomik Aliens" on Drive Thru RPG and elsewhere, which starts with prokaryote/eukaryote/silicate/artificial and works up from there.

    However, I was looking for finished examples. For that matter, I'm looking less for detailed biological underpinnings and more for unusual concepts and mind-sets. Maybe I'm setting the standard too high ... nobody's met an alien (anal-probe wielding Grays not withstanding), so we fall back on familiar patterns: humans, animals, plants, mythological creatures, etc.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Awe come on, you know the only real aliens are the ones that have funny looking foreheads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moritz View Post
    Awe come on, you know the only real aliens are the ones that have funny looking foreheads.
    (sings) Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads.

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    There are a few in Star Wars:

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Celegian

    These guys are pretty unique even though they are bipedal:
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Givin

    Or shapeshifting force sensitive plants:
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Neti

    How about this question, is it even possible for us to imagine what a TRULY alien species may look like? Would our instinct that forces us to instantly compare an unfamiliar object to a familiar object kick in. Thus there could never be something TRULY alien because it would "always look like something" to us?

    Could we even deal with seeing something we couldn't comprehend?
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    Dralasites from Star Frontiers?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dralasite

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    Years ago, I got involved in a Play by snail mail game that had rules in it for designing your own race. Although this was not pre-fab as you asked for, it was well thought out. Several of the player's races that I meet were truely original and unusual.
    I have tried several times to locate that particular rules pamplet, but have not found one yet. It was printed in 1975, WAY before internet-play.
    I also wish I knew of a site that had pre-fab aliens. but I got a dozen of my own, even if most are just humanoid versions. After all, doesn't two hands and two feet make more sence than any other form?

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    Hey, Inq, I just looked throu your Star Wars. wikks link and down thru it I found a mention of "The Ultimate Alien Anthology", i think i spelled it correct. I have seen this book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. It has quite a few aliens listed in it and might just be what f/m is looking for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spotlight View Post
    Hey, Inq, I just looked throu your Star Wars. wikks link and down thru it I found a mention of "The Ultimate Alien Anthology", i think i spelled it correct. I have seen this book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. It has quite a few aliens listed in it and might just be what f/m is looking for.
    Well if he is looking for something that doesn't resemble something that we recognize, human, animal, or the like then I wouldn't recommend it.

    However, it is filled with TONS of aliens all of which have made an appearance somewhere in teh Star Wars universe and they are all pretty interesting.

    The Ultimate Alien Anthology is a great book. It is filled wih the history of each species, characteristics of each, and their game stats and I think it even lists what a commoner of that species stats would be like.
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    Forgot about Dralasites, and a couple of the Star Wars critters looked interesting. Some good suggestions so far.

    For some context, I'm thinking about a hard-SF setting where nearly all sapients are humans or Earth-derived life forms, but a few "true aliens"
    exist on isolated worlds or (in one or two examples) as interstellar civilizations as advanced as humans, if not more so. A genetically enhanced octopus is your brother compared to beings who evolved under a different sun (if it was a sun ...).
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riftwalker View Post
    (sings) Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads.
    Yep, you know you're a nerd when you recognize someone quoting "They Might Be Giants"...

    I'm going to go kill myself now

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    I'm glad someone did! I was beginning to lose hope...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquisitor Tremayne View Post
    There are a few in Star Wars:

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Celegian
    Number 1 looks like a jellyfish, and the rest are bipedal humanoids.

    I doubt we can conceive such alien-aliens. Just because our only point of reference is Terran, albeit we do have some really strange looking things on our planet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moritz View Post
    I doubt we can conceive such alien-aliens. Just because our only point of reference is Terran, albeit we do have some really strange looking things on our planet.
    Hm, maybe what I'm really looking for are tricks to make creatures seem mysterious and strange. Some examples:

    The Encounter Suit: An alien requires exotic life support; humans see only an alien's space suit or personal vehicle. Examples: Vorlons, Daleks.

    The Unspeakable: Humans who see the alien go mad, or at least can't make sense of what they're seeing. Example: Medusans from Original Trek, most Lovecraftian creatures.

    The Unseen: Extending the Encounter Suit, humans only know the alien from their spaceships, probes, and radio contact. Example: "vanished species", Tholians (to an extent).

    The Blob: An alien is naturally amorphous. Examples: Nunclees, Dralasites.

    The Masters of Disguise: Aliens can reshape themselves into human forms. Examples: most "infiltrator" aliens, Neti, the Ophiuchi from John Varley's Ophiuchi Hotline
    Last edited by fmitchell; 11-03-2007 at 02:57 AM.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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