Friday, April 11, 2014

Alien Inspirations

The Star Wars cantina scene has a lot of interesting looks for alien species, but doesn't present a lot of different alien psychology. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on what sort of science fiction setting you want to run, but there are some good inspirations for more varied, detailed aliens.

GURPS Uplift details David Brin's Uplift Universe in game terms and also presents a detailed random alien generation method. Also in the realm of GURPS books, GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 1-4 have some good stuff in them.

Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to the Uplift Universe actually details more species than the GURPS book, but doesn't give any game stats, obviously.

Chanur's Venture by C.J. Cherryh is worth picking up at a use bookstore for it's appendix on the species of the Compact alone. All of her aliens are detailed and well-realized.

Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials is an overview of interesting aliens form a lot of science fiction with nice pictures.

Those are just a few, but one's I've found useful and inspirational.

9 comments:

Tim Shorts said...

There is a fantasy RPG game...for the life of me I can't remember the name, Tasalinia (something like that) has a huge variety of races that I find more alien like than fantasy fodder. I used that book many years ago when I ran a short space adventure series.

Trey said...

Would that be Talislanta? The one I wrote this post about using it for a space opera game? :)

Tim Shorts said...

That's it.

edchuk sockmonkey said...

Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials is a great book. Will check out the other two.

garrisonjames said...

The Chanur series is a lot of fun. Cherryh does a great job of providing a rollicking pulp-style adventure featuring a female protagonist who is confronted with as many challenges from within her society as she faces from any outsiders or aliens. Good stuff.

Barlowe's Guide is highly inspirational, a wonderful survey of creatures to spark the imagination. He also did a guide to Fantasy, that I have yet to acquire...

Trey said...

@Jim - I don't think the fantasy book as good as the sci-fi one, but it is definitely worth having.

Noah Stevens said...

I was just thinking the other day about the Star Control games from the 1990s and how the races from that series would make fun playable races for some RPG

I did a heavy-handed job on the Star Frontiers races for DCC - on my blog The Hapless Henchman

Martin R. Thomas said...

Funny that you mentioned Barlowe's Guide... as it's going to be the subject of an upcoming post of mine.

And totally agreed that the Fantasy book isn't quite as good. It's just nowhere near as inspirational and fun as the Extraterrestrials books. It's sad really because as I kid I always hoped that he would do a fantasy version and decades later when it came out I grabbed it right away and after reading through it I just felt kind of "blah."

Trey said...

I look forward to reading your post on it.