Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Aliens In Spectacular Science Stories/Rockets & Rayguns

Yeah, I am still thinking about which name to use. I think that, at least, SSS will be the working title.

Anyway, aliens. Since the game draws on a wide range of sources for its inspiration (I'll do an "Appendix N" post soon), it also draws on a wide array of types of alien races. On the one hand, humanoids, even ones that can intermarry with Humans, should be really common. On the other hand, some of the aliens in the source material get really weird and "out there". A really common trope is the alien race that is a lot like our stories of spirits and demons, being non-physical and capable of manipulating the physical universe in various ways. The original Star Trek series was particularly good for providing visual examples of these, but they were common throughout the history of the pulp raygun fantasy stories.

I'd talked earlier about the idea of the Flanaess Sector, but that was originally targeted at a more "hard" SF setting, where what we know of physics was important. That isn't a concern in raygun fantasy, so I've been looking at other monsters to include as aliens. I probably still won't include elves, since that would make things look a little too much like 40K for comfort!

I'm particularly interested in some of the more obscure entries to be found in the OSR, actually. The Kzaddich and Tsalakian (pdf), originally found in Footprints magazine (and John Turcotte's dreams prior to that), were put into the OGL when they were added to the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book. I think that they would be perfect for raygun fantasy. In the Adventures Dark & Deep Bestiary, Joseph Bloch provides an interesting creature called the "Genius Loci", which resembles a number of creatures from the original Star Trek, from various adventures of Northwest Smith, and so on. Mr. Bloch helpfully included that entry under the OGL.

I mentioned a number of creatures that fit in the Flanaess Sector article, such as the Flumph, Grell, Otyugh (or Neo-Otyugh), Myconids, Ropers, and so on. I think that I can replace the Mind Flayers with the Thelidu (they fit into the idea of raygun fantasy a little better anyway, since they were specifically developed for a science-fantasy influenced setting, Dwimmermount), which were included in the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book by James Maliszewski. The Umber Hulks who attend on Neogi could be replaced by Joseph Bloch's Underground Goliath.

All of that aside, it should be pointed out that nearly anything that fits into a fantasy world will also fit into raygun fantasy worlds. Notably, some of the horrors in Rafael Chandler's Teratic Tome are extremely appropriate to the sorts of pulp SF that falls into the raygun fantasy category.

I should write a manifesto, of sorts, of raygun fantasy.

The main thing that I'll need to do is work out which aliens are most common and have star empires of their own. I already know that I want the Thelidu to have one, with a sector of Ropers resisting them, and I certainly want an empire of Myconids (or maybe Skathros's Mushroom-men).

In the end, though, all of that is pretty much background to the central theme of the game, which I will talk about next time.

Edit 4/26: I didn't get around to talking about that central theme in the next post, but I will. I started to approach the discussion a couple of posts later, when I began to lay out what, exactly, I mean when I say "raygun fantasy".

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