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Gideon Shaw
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PostSubject: Playing with Aliens   Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:34 pm

Well, we didn't have a forum this would fit into. So, I'm putting this here.

So, to rest my SoMag Muse, I've been noodling around with some other ideas, one being a space story. Here's the concept: at 11:59PM, in the last minute of December 21, 2012, while the world is busy not ending, on the edge of our Solar System, an alien fleet drops out of FTL. This fleet is a ragtag, fugitive fleet, on the run from The Enemy that wiped out their worlds. Yes, they even have a "battlestar" (if you want to call an unarmed supercarrier a battlestar, that is).

Now, my basic premise is that the citizens of this fleet are composed of several different species. I've outlined two already, and I've got an idea for a third and fourth in mind that I'm working on. Would you like to play along, design an alien for me?

Here's the rules: NO Rubber Forehead aliens. NO Grey Aliens. NO Aliens that are Humans (I've kind of already done that one). Aliens can be Humanoids (head, torso, two arms, and two legs), Intelligent Gerbils (some kind of animal mutated into an extraterrestrial), or Starfish Aliens (something completely different), or some combination of those tropes. Also, give the alien a name that you might call an alien on the internet.

For example, the first alien that I conceptualized is the Tygorilla. Basically, it's half cat, half chimp, but an upright bipedal humanoid. The species name is a combination of "tiger" and "gorilla". Their actual name would look something like this: "ErrgrrAAHHH'Thak*!" The "*" indicates a growly glottal stop, and the "!" just indicates how enthusiastically the word is pronounced. (Ironically, the Tygorillas translate their own species name as "human", or at least that's the concept behind the meaning of the word.) Tygorillas are basically the "humans" of the fleet. They are the most numerous species and fill most of the defensive and administrative roles within the fleet's organization.

The other alien that I've come up with so far is the Brain Squid. It's a land-dwelling squid with ten tentacles (actually, it has twelve, but two of the tentacles are retracted most of the time because they're used for... well, Squid stuff). Brain Squids' name for themselves looks like a combination of mathematical formula and music score, which is what their spoken language sounds like. They communicate by means of speaker-like sound boxes located on their "face". When dealing with us humans, they'll adopt a human name, like "George" or "Bob", for ease of communication.

The third alien that I've got in mind, which is actually the first alien that I thought of, and used to look like a Brain Squid is the Ancient Makers. That's what they call themselves. The fleet owes its very existence and the survival of member species to the Ancient Makers. They constructed the Great Arks and the Supercarrier that are at the center of the fleet. I have an idea of how I want to portray them now, but I'm gonna wait while I noodle that one a bit. The Ancient Makers are a race of pacifists, but it's a philosophical choice. They have the power to destroy worlds with the same ease that we swat flies, but choose to run and hide instead because they fear their own power so much. I'm thinking there might be a little guilt involved, too, because I'm thinking that they accidentally "created" The Enemy.

The fourth alien that I've been noodling today I'm tentatively calling a "heckhound". I envision it as a warm-blooded, reptilian, six-limbed, canine-like, heavy-gravity world denizen. Sort of a weiner dog crossed with a crocodile and a centipede.

Okay, I need another two or three aliens. Impress me.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:43 pm

As an alternative to Tygorilla (which sounds like a bad supervillian with animal characteristics) how about:

Felgorn (feline gorilla)
or
Tyrilla (r pronounced with a trill and a ls with a purr) being their home planet name and Tyrillan being how they (and things they do) are referred to?

I'm personally more leaning to the former, but at least the latter would be close to what you already have. variants of the name could be Tyrella or simply Tyrial

-----------------------

For the brain squids, can I suggest something involving celphalopod for the name? though brain squid as a derogatory nickname would make sense. Also, for another way you could have gone with this, look at the Hanar of Mass Effect.

-----------------------

I got nothin on the ancient makers

---------------------

more later

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:30 pm

"Tygorilla" is a human portmanteau. Their own name for themselves would probably be spelled "Ergrah'Thak", but would sound more like "ErrgrrAAHHH'Thak". I'm just imagining the creative ways that humans would name aliens, especially descriptively, on the internet. I imagine that news people would try their best to pronounce Ergrah'Thak with all the growly-hissing emphasis of the aliens themselves, but most folks would call them "tiger-apes", "cat-monkeys", "space apes", etc. "Tygorilla" is just the "best" of a bad batch of nicknames, the one that the Ergrah'Thak themselves seem to have adopted when speaking English.

The Brain Squids speak a language that sounds like a musical score, and their concept of a written language looks like a mathematical formula. "Brain Squid" is just the most popular nickname, but I also see them being called "land squids", "space squids", or even "hentai monsters". I'm sure there were a lot of Japanese hentai fans who plotzed when the Brain Squids showed up with the first landing party.

The Ancient Makers call themselves that. No matter what language it's translated into, that's how their name for themselves comes across. Usually it's just shortened to "Maker" for convenience, and their tech is usually referred to as "Maker Tech." They are oddly familiar with the intricate biologies of all their allies, even us Humans. Some of their technology requires a certain genetic compatibility to work, especially their cybernetic implant tech.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:05 am

Looking for other aliens, How about something Chimeric? (Pretty sure I spelled that wrong) Something genetically created by splicing. (not necessarily by the Makers.)

In Chinese area of study it's used to describe winged quadrupeds, for the Greeks it was a line with a snake for a tail and a goat's head in the middle that breathed fire. I'm just tossing out suggestions. You kinda have that with the loogie named aliens But I'm thinking something definitely quadruped maybe these guys are pets? Like Gabriel Ratchets?

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:20 pm

This is what I've come up with so far:

1. The Ancient Makers. The oldest, most highly advanced species in the refugee alliance. The Makers are a semi-corporeal life form that creates avatar-like bodies to inhabit. Primarily these forms are robotic, but they can also inhabit biological "clone" bodies. As a general rule Makers are pacifists. They are not incapable of violence or even opposed to other species engaging in violence for self defense, but they are philosophically opposed to doing violence themselves. The Makers actively assembled the refugee fleet, even created the massive ark-ships and the defensive supercarrier, but all offensive weapons in the fleet were created by other members of the alliance. The Makers don't even build weapons. However, they will skirt a fine line and build components that can be assembled into weapons, such as drives for missiles ("they're drives for unarmed probes, but once they leave the factory...").

2. Ergrah'Thak. Also called "Tygorillas" or "cat-chimps", this species is the most numerous of the refugee aliens. Resembling a mixture of chimp and cat, the Ergrah'Thak are the most "human-like" of the newcomers, and are most often the aliens who interact with humans. Their psychology is very similar to our own, and they've developed culturally similar to ourselves.

3. Bem. From an old science fiction term, "Bem" is an anagram for "Bug Eyed Monster". This name was chosen by these particular aliens for themselves when attempting to translate their language into English. The Bems are also called "brain squids" for their squid-like appearance. Like the Ergrah'Thak, the Bems are psychologically compatible with humans with a disturbingly similar sense of humor.

4. Hexicornavore. This heavy gravity-born species resembles a cross between an alligator, a dachshund, and a six-limbed demon. They are centaur-like in carriage, moving on four legs while standing erect, but are capable of six-limbed movement (although this is considered uncivilized or child-like). The Hexicornivore spoken language has been described as sounding like a duck trying to bark like a dog with a harmonica stuck in its throat. Hexicornavores actually have three windpipes and voice boxes, which is why they sound like they're speaking through a harmonica. They created the name "hexicornavore" themselves as the closest thing they could come up with in English to match their own name for themselves, which actually translates to something like "six-horned apex predator." They have a set of six horns on their head, which in their philosophy is the place where their souls reside. Males have smooth horns like a cow's, and female horns are ribbed like a goat's. Because of their oddly canine-like appearance, they are sometimes nicknamed "hexhounds."

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:51 pm

Gideon Shaw wrote:
So, yeah, after twenty-odd years of retail and chronic pain I’m ready to violence unto others,” Cam said with a sigh.

Seems that a verb has gone AWOL. I think it was probably a "do."

Quote :
“So, I could retire at 65, looking like I’m 45, but in better shape than I’m in now?” Cam mused.
.
.
.
“Of course, as I said earlier, a portion of that salary will be withheld to cover the expense of rejuvenation therapy, twelve thousand five hundred dollars per year for the duration of your contract,” Casper explained.

“A quarter of a million dollars,” Cam said.

That the standard contract is twenty years isn't really spelled out. Cameron's comment makes it sound like the duration is up to him, but Casper makes the duration sound like a done deal. You might have Casper say that if Cameron signed a standard 20 year contract, then the amount withheld would be 12.5K a year. Or just omit the "could" in the first quoted sentence. Or something like that.

Quote :
“I mean, you’re not born of this Earth, Mr. Casper, are you?” Cam said.

Casper cocked his head to one side. “And how did you come to that conclusion?”

I'd say this was a pretty big giveaway:

Quote :
Well, we’ve got to come up with the capitol to pay our contractors, and tech transfers to your world’s various governments won’t cover all our bills,” Casper said.

Also, it should be capital.

Finally, one more piece of advice:

Write more.
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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:26 am

Because Tom asked for it, I wrote more stuff. This is general background information. More will be forthcoming.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:26 am

Aliens

A. Allies

1. Mechs/Makers The Mechs appear to be a species of sentient machines. In reality, the "Mechs" are avatar bodies piloted by a species that is, in essence, sentient programming, a self-aware, heuristic operating system. In their "natural" state Mechs exist as the command operating system of a cloud of networked nano machines. The Mechs use their nano-cloud form to construct larger, more robust devices and machines that they inhabit and operate. As a species, the Mechs are beyond ancient, remembering a time when the universe was young. Their oldest, most ancient and revered stories tell of a time when they were organic beings, not unlike ourselves. As they advanced in knowledge and technology, they downloaded their memories and personalities into machine bodies as a means of achieving immortality.

Modern Mechs refer to themselves as "Makers." As a species Makers are pacifists, the preservation of life, especially sentient life, is their highest law and calling. They will not actively seek to cause harm to another thinking being. In fact, they actively seek to preserve sentient life when they find it. Earth was discovered by the Makers tens of thousands of years ago, about the time that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal Man were competing for dominance of our world. The Makers saw in Homo sapiens a spark of the divine creative, the same spark that the Makers see in themselves, and they decided that Humanity had to be preserved.

So, the Makers terraformed a number of worlds in the galaxy to be compatible with Human life. Then, they transplanted small populations of Humans, both Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal, to several of these worlds. The Makers have observed these worlds and their populations for centuries with rapt fascination, often gathering together to share observations and data collected.

When the Ro'chaq became hostile and began conquering and/or exterminating their sentient neighbors, the Makers were moved to take action to preserve sentient life. The superluminal drive that the Ro'chaq used relied on "hopping" through hyperspace from star to star. As planetary engineers of no small talent, the Makers are quite capable of causing a star to go nova, and that was their initial solution to the Ro'chaq expansion. They created a dead zone of dying stars around Ro'chaq space that disrupted hyperspace travel, but some of the stars they intended to detonate had sentient life forms living there. So, the Makers created the great Arks, and sought to help the locals evacuate their populations.

The refugee fleet made it out of Ro'chaq space through a narrow "passage" through hyperspace that the Makers had left behind. This route will actually bring the Ro'chaq into contact with over a dozen worlds with Human populations, including Earth eventually. The Humans of Earth are the most technologically advanced Humans in the galaxy, and the most numerous. The Makers have decided to raise an army to fight the Ro'chaq, starting with their refugees and the Humans of Earth.

Mechs do not have gender as we understand the concept, but they do adopt male or female identities when interacting with organic beings that have more than one gender. They do not reproduce. If one of their mechanical bodies is destroyed, they can download their operating system and memories into a nano-cloud and move on to a new body. The exception to this is if their entire body is destroyed down to the molecular level or beyond. For example, the device that they use to detonate a star requires a sentient to consciously activate the device, sacrificing itself in the process. In creating the dead hyperspace zone around Ro'chaq space, hundreds of Mechs died to contain the threat.

Humans gave the Makers their "Mech" moniker because the only Makers most Humans have ever seen or met have been robotic. The Makers are also extremely adept at the biological sciences. They have created avatars that are identical to normal animals down to the cellular level, including Humans. These "bio-avatars" are used to covertly observe Humans on the Preservation worlds, and to more easily interact with Humans on Earth. The Makers do not generally make it known that they can mimic Humans so easily.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:27 am

2. Er'grah'thah (aka "Cats") One of the two sentient species the Makers managed to rescue before closing of Ro'chaq space. The Er'grah'thah are a species of mammalian humanoids with physical traits that make them appear to be a combination of hominid, primate, and feline. Their gross anatomical structure is quite similar to the Human form: head, torso, two arms, and two legs all in the "right" places. They are erect bipeds, same as ourselves, with bodies that bend and twist in a familiar way. Their faces are structured much like our own: two eyes, a nose, mouth, and ears, all in the "right" positions. They even have the same (or similar) physical gender indicators that we do (i.e. females have breasts, males have a penis, etc.).

The Er'grah'thah are obviously not Human, however. Their bodies are covered in a layer of velvet-like fur. The fur is colored and patterned according to racial/ethnic backgrounds, but commonly feature stripes or spots in black, a base color like orange, brown, or red on the arms, legs, back, and head, and a lighter color on the face and chest like white, tan, or gray. Although they are covered in fur, Er'grah'thah generally wear clothing that is either for protection, to preserve concepts of modesty, or for decorative purposes. Other feline-like features shared by all Er'grah'thah are the eyes and ears. Their eyes are cat-like with a slit pupil and colored bright green, amber, or blue. The ears are also cat-like, triangular, and independantly mobile. The Er'grah'thah hand has the same structure as the Human hand: four fingers and an opposable thumb, but the their feet only have four toes per foot.

Internally, Er'grah'thah have many of the same organs that Humans do, and in much the same arrangement. They have four lungs, instead of two, but each of their lungs is half the size of the human lung. The only real advantage this gives them as a species is that if a single lung deflates they only lose a quarter of their breathing capacity instead of half. The Er'grah'thah heart is also center chest, but the larger part is on the right instead of the left. Their intestinal tract is composed of three different sized segments instead of two. The variety doesn't make them any more or less efficient at gaining nutrition than Humans. Speaking of digestion, Er'grah'thah come from a biosphere with a radically different protein base than our own. So, they cannot gain much, if any, viable nutrition from our food, and vice versa.

Another distinct difference between Er'grah'thah and Humans is that the Er'grah'thah have three genders: male, female, and omale. The male Er'grah'thah is built along the same lines as a Human male. They are larger, more heavily muscled than their counterparts, and the male has a penis and testicles carried in a scrotal sack. The male fills much the same role in their societies as males do in our own, primary laborer and wage earner. Similarly, Er'grah'thah females are formed and function much the same as our own female gender with one notable exception: they lack ovaries. They have the womb to carry young and the mammary glands to nurse young once they are born, but they do not provide the eggs to be fertilized by the male's semen. Instead, the third gender, the ovipositing male or "omale," provides the egg.

Technically, the omale is another female gender, but omales identify themselves as masculine. In structure omales are built along the same lines as a male. They even have a penis-like organ, the egg-delivering ovipositor, but they lack a scrotal sack. Instead, they have ovaries, which are internal. Indeed the only reliable way to differentiate between a male and an omale is to examine the genital region for the presence or absence of the scrotal sack. Omales are generally of a slighter, almost more delicate build than males, but are still larger and stronger than females. Omales also fill many of the traditionally masculine roles in Er'grah'thah society. Females generally fill the child-rearing and nurturing rolls, and males and omales provide the labor that provides for the females and offspring. All three genders are equally represented in their species.

Because the question will be asked: interspecies copulation is possible, but interspecies reproduction is not. The same protein sequences that make it impossible for them to digest our food also make it impossible for our genes to mingle to produce a hybrid. Interspecies copulation with the Er'grah'thah will probably happen because the Er'grah'thah also have the concept of recreational sexual intercourse coupled with a natural curiosity equal to our own. A Human male can easily "entertain" an Er'grah'thah female, and an Er'grah'thah male or omale can just as easily bring pleasure to a Human female.

Due to an extremely superficial resemblance to the characters from a popular late-20th century cartoon, "Thundercats," most Humans refer to Er'grah'thah as "Cats." The name is somewhat enhanced by the slightly muzzle-like shape of their faces, as well as their cat-like eyes and ears. In fact, their name for their species "Er'grah'thah" can be translated as "the Human People." Ironically, their name for the Human species is "Ner'ran'thah," which can be translated as "hairless primate people" (usually shortened to "Ner" or "ape").

The bulk of the refugee fleet's population, a little over two billion, are Cats. They come from a world called Grrel, which was slightly smaller than Earth (roughly .95 equivalent Gravity). The Cats had a comparable level of technology to our own, maybe twenty or thirty years ahead in some areas, an equal amount behind in others. Culturally, the Cats of Grrel were as diverse as we ourselves are, but they have a similar psychology to our own, and the dominant society of their home world bears a strong similarity to the values and mores of Western Civilization. The current refugee culture is somewhat shell-shocked from what has happened to them in the fairly recent past.

When the Ro'chaq invaded, the Er'grah'thah fought back, viciously and effectively. They drove off the first wave of scouts by the time the Makers arrived to warn them of the Ro'chaq's imminent invasion. Seeing they were too late, the Makers lobbied the Er'grah'thah to evacuate the system. The Ro'chaq second wave came with ten times the force of the first wave. The Makers and their Kraken allies did their best to slow the Ro'chaq, but it was too little, too late. Grrel would be lost. The leaders of the planetary alliance in command of Grrel's combined defense recommended to the leaders of their respective nations that the Makers be taken up on their offer of evacuation.

A planetary lottery was enacted as the fairest means of choosing who would go with the Makers and who would stay behind. Small family units chosen in the lottery boarded Maker shuttles and were transferred to the Arks set aside for their population. Out of six billion souls, the Er'grah'thah only managed to evacuate a third of their people. A similar lottery was held among the military to choose those who would go with the refugees as their protectors. Once the Arks were filled to capacity, the Maker refugee fleet, screened by Kraken escorts, fled the system.

The leaders of Grrel had decided that they would enact a scorched earth policy to deny the resources of their world to the Ro'chaq. They would detonate every remaining nuclear device on the planet, killing their own populations rather than allowing them to be killed or enslaved by the Ro'chaq. The Makers went a step further and provided the leaders of Grrel with a nova detonator, which would blow up their sun and destroy the Ro'chaq fleet. Unfortunately, the nova detonator failed to go off because the controller the Makers had cobbled together was destroyed in a Ro'chaq kinetic strike. On the other hand, the plan to detonate their nuclear stockpiles did work. No Er'grah'thah still on Grrel survived, and the planet was rendered uninhabitable. Now, most of the refugee Er'grah'thah survive in stasis aboard the Maker Arks.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:30 am

3. Kraken (aka "Squids") The other sentient species rescued by the Makers is the Kraken. That name is not what they call themselves. Their own name is completely unpronounceable by Humans, sounding like a musical score, and the written version of their name looks like an algebraic formula. Initially, they were called "space squids" by Humans. That particular moniker, usually shortened to just "squid," is still often used by Humans in casual conversation. However, the Kraken hired a public relations firm to come up with a better name for them to use among humans, and "kraken," after the ancient, giant squid-like monster of mythology, appealed to them because the name conveys strength, but mostly because they think it sounds funny. Squids have a sense of humor that would make a Monty Python writer proud.

The basic shape of the Kraken body is a dome resembling a formation of brain coral. The dome is a hard carapace, a kind of rigid shell that provides both structure and excellent natural protection. At the front of the carapace is the Kraken's "face." They have two large, disk-like eyes above a beak-like mouth. To either side of the mouth, on either side of the body halfway to the rear of the carapace, and on the rear of the carapace are six organs that vaguely resemble concave satellite dishes and function as the Kraken's ears. Above the beak and between the eyes is an organ that resembles the speaker on a stereo. The resemblance is more than cosmetic because the Kraken use this organ as a sound maker, which is capable of recreating stunningly wide varieties of sounds from the subsonic to the supersonic. As a result Kraken can "speak" any human language as well as reproduce complex musical sequences, even mimicking multiple instruments. A second speaker organ is located on the back of the carapace, between the back ears and above an anus-like orifice.

From beneath the carapace extend ten tentacle-like appendages from which the Kraken gain their "Squid" nickname. Four of these tentacles, the longest and thickest, end in spade-like pads similar to those of the Earth squid, which the Kraken use as feet. Four more tentacles, lying on either side of the body between the "leg" tentacles, in "starfish"-shaped "hands." These "arm"-tentacles are used for heavy lifting and general manual tasks. The two remaining tentacles extend from in front of the forward pair of leg-tentacles. These two are smaller, more delicate versions of the arm tentacles, also ending in starfish "hands" and serve the Kraken as fine or precision manipulators. The two fine hand tentacles are not only the most dexterous, but also have the greatest degree of the sense of touch. Whenever a Kraken wants to feel the texture of an object or sense heat or cold, they use their fine hands.

Internally, the Kraken have many of the same organs that we do, all packed tightly together inside their armored carapace. They have one large brain, three hearts, two stomachs, and a digestive tract that makes ours seem like a child's maze game by comparison. The urinary and anal are located on the underside of the body beneath the hind pair of legs. The anus-like opening on the back of the carapace is actually the genital sheath.

The Kraken have four genders: fertile female, fertile male, infertile proto-female neuter, and infertile proto-male neuter. The least common gender is the fertile breeder female. One fertile female can bear the young of a dozen different fertile males at any one time. She spends most of her time pregnant and/or giving birth, but she doesn't mind because she's the least intelligent of the four Kraken genders. All her joy in life is having babies and "nursing" them until they are old enough to be passed off to their proto-female "nannies." Proto-females typically bond with a particular female in groups of up to thirteen. Their function in Kraken biology and society is to protect and care for the fertile female as well as general child-rearing. Proto-females have the second highest intelligence among the Kraken genders. Educating the young is among their many child-rearing responsibilities.

Male and proto-female Kraken occur in approximately equal ratios, with the statistical majority favoring males. Of the four genders, males have the highest levels of intelligence. They are the planners and leaders of Kraken society. Males compete with one another for access to a breeding female, usually by wooing one of the female's proto-female bonded guardians. In gaining the favor of, and pair-bonding with, a proto-female, the male gains access to the breeding female in order to carry on his genetic lineage. His bonded proto-female mate is the primary caretaker of his offspring by the proto-female's bonded female. One way that males gain the favor of proto-females is by having a strong and intelligent group of proto-males bound to themselves. Proto-males are the most numerous of the Kraken genders. They are only slightly more intelligent than a female Kraken, and are almost entirely dependant upon their bonded male for direction and leadership. Males usually average ten proto-male bond mates.

The Kraken bond is partially emotional, based on finding attractive traits in a potential bond mate, but it also has a powerful physiological component. The initial bond is created by using sound harmonics to "hypnotize" a potential bond mate. While in the hypnotized state, the initiator of the bond emits pheromones that the bonding recipient becomes "addicted" to. At the same time, bonding triggers the recipient to emit a pheromone that marks the initiator and addicts him to his bond mate. Breaking a bond is nearly impossible short of death, but it does happen when a family grows too large and needs to split off to form new daughter colonies.

All Kraken are born one proto-gender or the other. At adolescence a small proportion of the proto-male population with spontaneously transform into fertile males. A slightly smaller proportion of the proto-female population will, likewise, spontaneously transform into fertile females. In adulthood a fertile male or female can "activate" the change in an adult proto-male or proto-female. This ability is normally only used in emergency situations to replace large losses of the population due to tragedy or disease, but it is also an option when a family unit has grown too large and breaking the family apart to form a daughter colony is the only way to survive.

A Kraken family unit is called a "colony." At the center of the colony is a fertile female Kraken, known as the mama squid. The mama squid is attended by a "coven" of up to thirteen proto-females called nanny squids. Each nanny squid is pair bonded to a fertile male Kraken called a bull squid. Each bull squid is bonded to a "pack" of ten to twenty proto-male Kraken, known as worker squids. A full size Kraken colony would include almost three hundred adults and untold dozens of children.

Male and proto-male space squids are a little more massive than adult Human males, coming in at between two and three hundred pounds. They are shorter (about five to five and a half feet tall) and broader (about two and a half feet wide, three feet long) than Humans. The male squid's carapace has a swirling pattern of ripples and ridges on the surface, and the proto-male has a smooth shell. Both males' and proto-males' carapaces are a pearlescent cream or gray color. Their exposed skin is either gray-blue or reddish orange. Their eyes are usually brown or black.

Proto-female squids are half again larger than either of the male genders (300-450 lbs, five-foot-five to six-foot tall, almost three feet wide, and four feet long). The carapace of a proto-female is studded with spiky, blade-like fins, and the fingers of their heavy lifting arms have nasty retractable hooks and barbs. The carapace is a dark, pearlescent red or purple, and their exposed skin is either gray-blue or reddish orange. Proto-females have blue or green eyes.

The female squid is about twice the size of a male squid (400-600 lbs, up to six feet tall, if she feels like standing up, more than three feet wide, and four feet long). Females lack the hard carapace of the other genders. Instead she has a thinner, less rigid, leather-like shell that is studded with "natal sacks." These sacks are like a combination womb and marsupial pouch. For the gestational period (about one Earth year), the natal sacks are sealed. The natal sack then opens, and the infant squid crawls out for short periods of time, returning to the sack to absorb nourishment from the mama squid. Eventually, the feed bag function of the natal sack dries up, and the toddler squid is evicted from mama's care to his or her nanny's care. Within a few days, that natal sack is ready to bear another offspring. From conception to eviction, the mama's period of primary care lasts three to five years. The female's natal sack-studded carapace is usually the same color as her skin: either gray-blue or reddish orange, and her eyes are blue or green.

The Kraken come from a biosphere that is quite compatible to our own. They can eat our food and gain nutritional benefit from it, and vice versa. The two species, however, are not genetically compatible. Ten-limbed Human hybrids cannot happen. Interspecies copulation is equally impossible, even recreationally. The Kraken don't have a concept of recreational intercourse. They copulate only to reproduce or to activate proto-genders to full gender fertility, usually for the purpose of further reproduction. They derive no direct pleasure from the sex act, only a sense of accomplishing a vital species survival task. So, in short, no kinky hentai tentacle sex will happen. Ever.

Psychologically speaking, the Kraken may be aliens, but they are aliens that we can comprehend, and, likewise, they can understand us and our quirks. Humor translates well between the two species, as do concepts of grief, anger, happiness, profit and loss, and love. Sexual innuendo is pretty much lost on them, though. Kraken love music and visual arts like painting and sculpture. They especially love sculptures that they can touch. Similarly, Humans are coming to appreciate Kraken choral symphanies, especially the ones that are within our range of hearing.

Militarily, squid society is male-dominated despite the proto-female's natural adaptations to the warrior role. However, proto-females are considered the last line of defense for the nearly defenseless females and offspring. Even from ancient times, when confronting a threat, the bulls and their packs of workers would be the ones to go out and meet the threat, hopefully before it could get close enough to threaten the females and offspring. To this day, a bull and his pack is the Kraken's preferred offensive unit. The smallest Infantry unit the Kraken will field is a squad composed of a bull and his pack. All larger formations are built upon this basic and time honored unit. With the advent of more modern technologies and larger systems, the pack/squad still forms the foundation. Fighting vehicles are crewed by a single pack. One shift of a division aboard a vessel (wet navy or space navy) might also be a single pack. On some small vessels, a single pack might be the entire crew.

The Kraken are a highly advanced spacefaring species. They had just begun utilizing the system-hopping FTL system to colonize systems nearby to their homeworld when the Makers arrived with warnings about the imminent threat of the Ro'chaq. The Kraken offered to hold back the Ro'chaq as long as possible if the Makers would evacuate their offworld colonies first. The Kraken space fleet engaged the Ro'chaq in the Zrin home system. The Ro'chaq had heavily fortified their first major conquered system, which allowed them to fend of the Kraken fleet. The squids retreated to a system that they knew was scheduled for demolition by the Makers. The Ro'chaq pursuit fleet was trapped and destroyed in the nova detonation, but so was the squid fleet.

For many long years, while the Makers were building Arks and gathering the scattered colonists, the Kraken harried the Ro'chaq. The harrying came to an end when the Ro'chaq finally discovered the Kraken home system. The last Maker Ark, loaded with mamas, nannies, and offspring was headed out-system. The last of the Kraken space navy divided into two fleets. The fast escorts and light cruisers went with the Arks. Everything bigger and more heavily armored than a light cruiser stayed to fight. Before even engaging the squid fleet, the Ro'chaq launched a massive kinetic and nuclear bombardment of the Kraken homeworld. They'd had more than enough competition from the squids and wanted them beyond dead and destroyed. The planet was rendered lifeless, incapable even of sustaining life ever again. The squid heavy fleet kept the Ro'chaq pinned in the system long enough for the Arks to escape and rendevous with the Arks coming from the Er'grah'thah system.

The non-Ark ships of the refugee fleet are Kraken-built, but the Kraken could only effectively man about half of those ships fully. So, the Makers converted half of the escort fleet to make them useable by the Er'grah'thah. The vast bulk of Kraken among the refugees are males and proto-males. All the females and offspring and most of the proto-females are in stasis, safely aboard the Arks. The total population of Kraken survivors is a little over one billion. Their original population was closer to ten billion.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:37 am

The next installment will be enemies, but if I left something out or didn't expand enough on a point about one of the aliens, feel free to post a question. I typed this up on word pad, so there was no spell check.

I can think of one thing off the top of my head that I might have missed. The Kraken have a second voice box on their back side, just above the genital sheath. You may be wondering: "why do the squids have a second voice box on their asses?" The answer is kind of simple. That voice box isn't the full feature sound reproducer that the primary voice box is. Instead, they use it for echolocation, especially during the act of copulation. Effectively, they use the echolocation function to line up the genital sheaths of the male and female "docking procedures."

"Well, why don't they use those extra hands to, you know, feel their way around?" Well, the answer to that is cultural more than biological. Yes, they can do that, too, but it's considered inelegant and a bit overly familiar. The closest the squids get to our concept of recreational sex is using their arm tentacles to hug one another while using their fine hands to feel up one another's faces. That's how they express affection to one another. Sex has nothing to do with emotional bonding, and is purely about reproduction, and you're a dirty, nasty pervert if you say different!

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:01 pm

B. Enemies

1. Ro'chaq The Enemy. A xenophobic, expansionistic race of humanoids descended from a tribe of genetically altered Neanderthal men (Homo neanderthalensis). They appear to be Human, somewhat shorter and stockier than the average among Earth Humans. Individual Ro'chaq are physically stronger on average than comparable Humans from Earth, but are otherwise nearly identical in dexterity, gross agility, and physical stamina. The Ro'chaq are, as a species, quite clever and are capable engineers and builders. Ro'chaq have the heavy jaws and low browed, elongated skulls of their Neanderthal ancestors. Typically, they have pale skin with a small minority of Ro'chaq who are dusky skinned. Pale skinned Ro'chaq usually have red hair, but the color range stretches from chestnut to strawberry blond. Dusky Ro'chaq typically have brown hair ranging from nearly black to sandy brown. The most common eye color among the Ro'chaq is brown. Blue and green eyes are extremely rare and usually seen as a sign of some special favor by the gods. Male Ro'chaq average between five-foot-eight and five-foot-ten in height. Females average only an inch or two shorter. Body weight averages are within norms for Humans although the Ro'chaq trend toward slightly heavier because of their more robust musculature.

Tens of thousands of years ago, as previously mentioned, the Makers discovered Earth and the Humans who made their home upon that world. In order to preserve the Human species, the Makers relocated several small populations to worlds that they had terraformed to act as reservations for these Humans. The Makers also took on a long term sociological/anthropological research project of observing how these off world Human colonies evolved compared to the original Humans on Earth. One of the preserved populations were the ancestors of the Ro'chaq. The Maker assigned to be their primary watcher feared that they might not be adaptable enough to survive long on their new homeworld. So, it "tweaked" their DNA, boosting intelligence and the drive to survive.

The modern Ro'chaq have an extremely powerful species survival drive. Whenever they encounter another species that may pose a threat to their survival, the Ro'chaq either destroy it utterly or destroy it down to a remnant that they then enslave and "domesticate" to serve their survival needs. The Ro'chaq were not the only Human population settled on their world. Other tribes of Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Humans had also been settled onto that colony planet. One by one, as the Ro'chaq encountered these other populations, they were conquered and absorbed into the Ro'chaq. The usual method of operation was to kill anybody capable of fighting back first. Then, anyone with leadership authority was the next to go. Desirable females were claimed as spoils of war, and anyone who had a special skill or knowledge would be preserved until such time as enough Ro'chaq had mastered the skill or knowledge to make keeping the originator no longer necessary. No other Human subspecies now exists on the Ro'chaq homeworld, Chaq'lal. They are either extinct or have been absorbed into the Ro'chaq species.

Chaq'lal is located in a binary star system, and both stars have habitable worlds within their "Goldilocks" belts. The Makers placed the Humans on Chaq'lal, fourth planet out from the primary star. The second planet of the secondary star also supports a sentient non-Human species called the Hrix. The Maker anthropologist studying the Ro'chaq was quite proud of "its" people when they looked to the stars and discovered that they had neighbors, that they were not alone in the universe, and it was even more proud when the Ro'chaq rapidly began to develop space travel technologies and started sending probes to the Hrix homeworld. That pride became horror when the probes were followed by missiles and an invasion/colonization fleet. Following their age old protocol, the Ro'chaq slaughtered the strong and enslaved the remnant.

The Maker went back to his people and admitted his crimes against the Ro'chaq, which resulted in the crimes against the Hrix. The Makers decided that the next thing the Ro'chaq would do would be to send ships out beyond their home system, whether they had developed faster than live travel or not. So, they sent envoys to warn the nearest technologically advanced species, the Zrin. Not trusting the word of the Makers, and themselves a powerful spacefaring species, the Zrin dispatched superluminal probe ships to investigate the Makers' claims. The Ro'chaq interpreted the probe as a hostile incursion into their territory. They captured the Zrin ships, killed everyone but the engineers, and within a couple of generations had figured out Zrin superluminal technology, which they used to eventually launch an invasion of the Zrin home system. In the end, the only Zrin to survive, un-enslaved, were the hundred million or so that the Makers managed to get aboard an Ark.

The destruction of the ring of stars around Ro'chaq space has not stopped them from expanding, merely slowed their advance. They are meticulously scouting the edges of their territory looking for a way out. The Ro'chaq blame the Makers for organizing the resistance against them and see the pacifistic aliens as the primary threat to Ro'chaq survival. Now that they have a multi-stellar empire, the Ro'chaq are consolidating their holdings, fortifying and reinforcing. Eventually, they will break out, and they will kill anything in their path that doesn't submit to them.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:02 pm

2. Hrix are a species of canine-like centauroids from Rath'lal in the Ro'chaq binary home system. The word "hrix" is the Ro'chaq word for "pet" with overt connotations of being a domesticated beast of burden. In form the Hrix have six limbs, utilizing the lower two pair for locomotion and the upper pair for manipulation. Their bodies are covered in a tough, leathery red hide that gives them a reptilian appearance, even though they are marsupial mammals. The head has a long muzzle, like a greyhound's, but unlike a pure carnivore the mouth has flexible cheeks. Hrix have a set of four eyes arranged for binocular vision. The upper pair of eyes can see clearly at a great distance and in low light but are essentially color blind. The lower pair of eyes are near sighted but highly adapted for seeing detail and in color ranging from the infrared to blue. Indigo, violet, and ultraviolet are outside of their visual spectrum. They have four digits on the end of each hand and foot. The hand has two opposable thumbs. The toes on their feet follow a splayed pattern.

From nose tip to the end of its stubby tail, Hrix are eight feet long. From the crown of its head to the soles of its forward feet, Hrix are four and a half feet tall. The tail is two feet long. Hrix are hermaphrodites. They have both male and female genitalia, but a lone Hrix cannot impregnate itself. Hrix tend to pair bond along dominant/submissive personality guidelines, although group bonding is relatively common. This dominant/submissive dichotomy is as close to differentiated gender identity as the Hrix come. Sub Hrix tend to outnumber Dom Hrix by a factor of 2.5 to 1. A Dom can have itself a harem of Subs.

When the Ro'chaq invaded, the Hrix had established the early rudiments of an industrial society. Those advanced Hrix were the first to fall to the Ro'chaq. The remainder who submitted to the obviously powerful, if not god-like, Ro'chaq were allowed to survive. Now, the Hrix serve the Ro'chaq as slaves doing common and/or demeaning labor. A select group of Hrix, highly indoctrinated and chemically controlled, are used by the Ro'chaq as shock troops. An elite corps of these Hrix shock troops even serve as suicide bombers, tracking down enemy resistance and detonating a backpack charge (anything from an anti-personnel explosive to a small nuke).

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:02 pm

3. Zrin are a species of four-limbed, vaguely humanoid, grasshopper-like aliens enslaved by the Ro'chaq. The word "zrin" mean "bug" in the Ro'chaq language. The Zrin were a highly advanced and technologically powerful species divided into "castes" based on purpose. When the Makers delivered the warning that the Ro'chaq might pose a threat, the Zrin dispatched a probe of light warships. Though more technologically primitive, the Ro'chaq were more tactically cunning and operationally ruthless than the Zrin diplomats and warriors. They managed to capture the Zrin ships intact and kill all but the Worker and Scientist caste Zrin in the crews. After figuring out how to recreate the Zrin Quantum Subspace Tunnel Drive, the Ro'chaq built a fleet to invade the Zrin homeworld, where they killed every living Zrin with the exception of a few Scientist and Worker caste Zrin with technical knowledge that the Ro'chaq found useful.

A small population of the Zrin were rescued by the Makers. They are aboard a Maker Ark, which is carrying them along with a crew of Makers to another galaxy. The plan is to create a new colony of the Zrin on a world far, far away from the Ro'chaq threat. The remaining Zrin, those enslaved by the Ro'chaq, are tightly controlled, serving as engineering crew aboard Ro'chaq supraluminal carriers.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:03 pm

C. Others

Alien Humans In ancient times, the Makers took small tribes of Humans from Earth and transplanted them on terraformed worlds. These colonies of Humans were generally left to their own devices (the Ro'chaq being the notable exception). The Makers observed these worlds to study how these Humans would advance and/or adapt to their new homeworlds in comparison to the Humans of Earth (the "control group" of the experiment). Some of these colonies died out due to disease or disaster. The Makers left these worlds fallow, for future colonization. Of the colonies that thrived, few are as advanced as Earth, and none have the population density, aside from the Ro'chaq. Between Earth and Ro'chaq space are a dozen Human civilizations, each blissfully unaware of the impending approach of the Ro'chaq. These civilizations range, technologically speaking, from post-medieval agrarian to transitional industrial age expansion. None of them have the capability to resist the Ro'chaq when they arrive. Alien Humans are predominantly descended from Ancient Modern Humans, and look just like us, but with a few adaptations for the variances of their homeworlds.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:08 pm

I've posted my first Work In Progress (WIP) scene in the new "Scenes from SciFi Mercenary Story." Please use the "Playing with Aliens" thread for discussions.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:54 pm

Gideon Shaw wrote:
"Food, clothing, and housing are all provided for you, as well, at no additional cost, if you wish to have your pay deposited in a savings account, and speaking of savings accounts, your pay goes to a Swiss bank account that will be set up in your name by us, and since you’re technically working for a company from a foreign nation, your pay is tax free.”

That's a really long sentence. A possible way to reword it:

"Food, clothing, and housing are all provided for you as well, at no additional cost. If you wish to have your pay deposited in a savings account, it will go to a Swiss bank account that will be set up in your name by us. Also, since you’re technically working for a company from a foreign nation, your pay is tax free.”

Gideon Shaw wrote:
...we’re improving your gene pool.

I'm pretty sure Payne would have picked up on that as well. If she's trying to pass herself off as human (without outright lying about it) "improving the gene pool" would be less obvious.

And yes, keep writing more.


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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:05 pm

Yeah, Casper isn't good at the "pretending to be a human" game, but that's because she isn't an anthropologist. She's a xenopsychiatrist, specifically she evaluates the mental fitness of recruits and determines how best to "fix" them if necessary. She'll also have a strong presence during their training, especially the virtual portion.

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:12 pm

I really like the mercenary story. And yeah, you might also call the pause, tilt, and remembering as if they were looking something up on wikipedia. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:40 pm

As is my custom, here's this story's version of the casting couch.

Characters we've met so far (please note that this is what the humans will look like post Reset therapy):

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Colton John Payne, Junior.

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Amadi Johnson-Chibueze

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Athena Marie Martinez

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Casper the Friendly Human-form Maker

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:56 pm

More Casting Couch:

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Erik Blair Fraser

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Katrina Sara "Kat" Green

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:38 am

Quote :
“What, this? Oh, this is just a bag full of guitars,” Colton grinned as he sat down on the bed and unzipped the bag. “Aw, dang! This bag is full of guns!”

I laughed at that, and more than a reasonable amount.
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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:59 am

I don't think that joke would have worked half as well if I hadn't set it up with the guitar case full of guns joke first. And, Tom, I LOL'd at your comment. More than a reasonable amount.

Okay, it's Casting Couch suggestion time again!

I need "avatars" for the following characters, and there are no bad suggestions, just ones that I'll ignore because they're wrong.

Valentine Albert "Val" Lemercier (white Cajun male. The character is an old man, but post-Reset will be young, possibly hot.)

Nuan Lee (Chinese, from Canada, a young woman suffering from cancer)

Beverly "Bev" Johnson (African-American from Detroit. She's deaf and spent most of her life on an assembly line.)

Rambert Ziv "Ram" Grosse (think "aryan ideal". Blind and scarred when, as a child, he was visiting his USAF father in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.)

Fausto Machado (Mexican immigrant. Had an unfortunate encounter with a psychotic Coyote {human trafficker, not the animal or totem spirit} which left poor Fausto a eunuch.)

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:21 pm

Nuan Lee: Katie Leung
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Beverly Johnson: Zoe Saldana or Kandyse McClure
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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:40 pm

Nice suggestions, Tom!

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PostSubject: Re: Playing with Aliens   

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Playing with Aliens
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