When you’re lying awake in the night and dreaming new dreams about far off places and alien races, in science fiction and fantasy, and you think it might be easy to invent something new.
A few years ago, some of us tried to write a science fiction background which included some elements from sci-fi we liked. It was, I suppose, meant to be a slightly more mature outlook on Star Trek, a series most of us watched and a game we generally liked playing (though convincing one ham actor that he couldn’t always be the captain was troublesome).
We only wanted 3-4 alien races to deal with but we wanted them to be very very alien. Some of the concepts were facinating. I loved the Swarm, the Snakes and the “human aliens” (colonies). I had some trouble with the molluscs but I blamed that more on myself. As a biologist I had a good grasp of the weird things out there on Earth and wanted to invent things that were really alien. Others without that background weren’t looking for the same criteria though they were instrumental in tightening the physics because that was their background!
But as an example, look at these beasties, the Water Bears.
Freeze them, boil them, dry them, expose them to open space & radiation – after 200 years they’ll still be alive!
How weird are they? Yet, blow them up a hundred times and instead of a millimetre-long creepie crawly you have a 10 centimetre freaky pet thing. Make it a metre long and, who knows, you’ve got the start of a primitive alien race. Give them money and digital watches and you’ve just invented Croydon.
If inventing new aliens, get a biologist on team. They’ll be able to tell you if the thing you’ve just invented is original or if you’ve just extrapolated the Moss Piglet from first principles (in a similar way to the way I once designed a nasty beastie for SLA Industries and discovered I’d invented spiders without referring to the copious documentation I had, book lungs and all!)
Just remember, if something is humanoid, there’d better be a good reason for it (like, for example, they’re humans and they’re from Earth) and that can open up an entire kettle of fish.
As for the game itself, it was shelved. The fun was in the creation.