A universe filled with Aliens?

Hello all,

welcome back! While working on my Space Opera setting I begin to question things I took for granted and explore some new ideas.  Right now I am thinking about aliens. They are a staple of the genre. Movies and series like Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5 made sure of that. There are some notable exceptions like Battlestar Galactica or Firefly/Serenity that enjoy a huge fan base.

In my outline there already is a heading for alien species. I realized however that when I think about the imagery of the setting I never see actual aliens in my mind’s eye. In parts I blame it on this interesting lecture: Martin Rees: Life’s Future in the Cosmos. He has a lot of interesting things to say on various topics. But the ideas that stuck with me are the expansion through machines and the (accelerated) evolution in the future.

I wont try to come up with a concept of what we might become in 6 billion years,  I am just not knowledgeable enough on this topic to explore these possibilities. Design wise The basic “Human”is still the baseline for me. And I want them in the game as we all can relate to what it means to be human. But we can barely imagine what the emotions and experiences of an insectoid being would be like.

At this point I am favoring a universe that humanity explored and settled with the use of machines. This humanity can adjust to a new environment in very few generations as long as the basic necessities of human survival are met. I do not envision humans adapted to survive on a gas giant. I am thinking more along the lines of humans that adapted to higher or lower gravity, light levels, atmospheric pressure, living underground or in zero-g etc. They all are visibly human but with subtle deviations from the normal “earth” human. I find this approach much more believable and I like it a lot.

I wonder if I am alone and what your opinion is?  Sadly I am not telepathic. That leaves me with one choice to get the answers I seek: A Poll! You can see it on the right. I will change the question depending on participation and when I have a new topic to investigate. I am for a new question every Saturday to explore a new facet of Sci Fi and Space Opera. Please share the poll around! The more answers I get the more representative the poll result is and I am interested in what you have to say.

Feel free to write a few words about your choice in the comments here or the poll! You can suggest questions I should ask in future weeks as well.

Read you soon.

10 thoughts on “A universe filled with Aliens?

  1. Hi Marcus, when I was still toying with the idea of running a space campaign (since scratched in favour of 50Fathoms unfortunately), I was also looking at this question. Having just played Mass Effect 2, the immediate solution for me was to take these races; they give a nice spread of aspects, are distinct and identifiable. Personally I’d still like to play one of the Douglas Adams alien species that was described as ‘a hyper-intelligent shade of the colour blue’ 😀
    One (well meant) question though: Do you need to do another SW alien set? It’s been done a number of times already. And there’s a lot to be said for sticking with known or recognisable species in terms of roleplaying. Not only the player has a better idea what he’s doing, the other players and the GM have a basic concept of the species as well. Unless you’ve really got a strong species concept, I’m not sure it’d be worth your effort.


    1. Hello mate, I can absolutely follow your line of reasoning. Most GMs take something familiar and adapt it to their setting. I do not necessarily want to create a totally new batch of races either. In all honestly I do not believe they would be that unique compared to what is out there in Star Wars, Star Trek, B5 etc. That is why I am more inclined to go the route of an “environment” template that modifies the base Human instead of totally new races. Similar thing but different approach. One could even create “racial” edges instead of full fledged races or templates. We can even use already existing edges to simulate certain heritages without creating anything new. Another option would be to skip it completely and basically have a box there saying: “You are the GM. If you want aliens check SWD for a ready made lineup and how to create your own.”

      But let`s assume we are not talking about Savage Space for a second but an officially licensed Sci Fi Setting. Would that change anything? I am curious in that regard. While I do believe the setting itself determines if there are aliens or not I wonder what others prefer in general.


  2. I like the idea of a universe of full of divergent human species. It’s a clever way to give a Star Trek-like assortment of “rubber prosthesis” aliens without burdening the players with alien psychologies.


    1. Indeed! Lord Karick actually had some thoughts on the matter here http://wp.me/p1yFBP-4l
      I think most never even try to play an alien but are enjoying some diversity in minds eye visuals and statistics. This solution would avoid this pitfall but still give diversity. Glad you like it! 🙂


    2. another reply as I can´t find an email for you and hope you read this:I wanted to comment on your blog but I am unable to do so as it wont take the captcha. Running Firefox.


  3. One of my favorite things from the first version of Savage Space was the adventure generator. I thought it was great fun to use and really upped the utility factor of the book. What’s more is that it provided a nice base line skeleton for adventure design while still encouraging and fostering creativity.

    What if you included similar systems for alien species and human mutations/evolutions based on ambient and environmental conditions? It wouldn’t require getting too specific or scientific, just an optional framework that a gm could use and then build on using his/her own ideas and the additional rules for races in swd. For example, first alien category includes options for humanoid, insect, animal mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish etc… The next covers evolutionary route and intelligence level. The next social attributes like hive minded, nomadic, pack, individual etc… It’s up to the gm to flesh them out more than that.
    The flow chart following humanoid could explore and flesh human variations out along the lines you already suggested or be a separate chart completely. This could give you human like variations similar to Star Trek and mentioned in the previous post or even like Dune.

    I guess it comes down to the difference between Savage Space being a setting book or a toolbox for space games in any setting. Depending on what your going for either is cool. Providing something like I described would make it feel more complete as a tool kit but might dilute the desired intent if you are aiming for a setting book. I love the first release and prefer the toolkit approach.

    Either way great work. I appreciate your effort and look forward to reading the next release.


    1. Hello Kalimnyak, thank you for the praise 😀 I like what you propose in general (I am a fan of toolboxes after all) and I think a generic random alien Generator just went in my to do list! Sounds very doable. Thank you for your suggestion!


  4. Absolutely, I’m glad it was helpful. Personally I prefer few aliens but the idea of the generator lends it a feeling of thoroughness. Also, there is stylistic consistency with your previous adventure generator.

    Good stuff! I can’t wait to read it. 🙂


  5. Hi, figured I’d chime in…. I think you need to ask yourself, what will having aliens available as player characters bring to your setting? Does each race have a background story and driving goal that will play a part in your world? I don’t think you can just throw them into the mix without having some very specific ideas about what you are planning to do with each race and how they will effect/influence your universe.

    On the other hand, I could also like a setting devoid of aliens depending on what other interesting things you do with it. Some of the most terrible monsters are the monsters within after all. Plus, if you leave aliens out in the beginning, there is always the possibility of bringing them back in later as an addition or revealing them as the “bad guys”. Because you can make their thoughts and motives completely alien and unknowable, they could serve to be a very good nemesis.

    Either way, I do look forward to seeing your creations.


    1. Thank you for this insightful response Vikki. Especially your point about direction and story is very poignant and I think important. Aliens simply for Aliens sake would do more harm then could as they would always feel like an afterthought or tacked on. A clear premise and a defined goal is better for the overall structure of the universe. Thank you for the encouragement! 🙂


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