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Old 06-21-2012, 09:45 PM   #1
Dorin Thorha
 
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Default [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

So, I'm working out some racial templates for a space setting,and could use some advice on one of the races. The basic fluff is that it is native to submerged caverns that extend beneath most of its planet's surface. Exploring the dangerously low-pressure shallows and finally venturing onto the actual surface was a technological achievement on par with space programs of other races. Thus it is late to the scene in space, but has some unique advantages due to space actually being somewhat closer to its native habitat than land is. The questions I have:

How exactly would such a species function on terrestrial planets and in space?

Movement would presumably require battlesuits or wheeled vehicles. The need to fill living quarters with high-pressure water would have interesting effects. Is there any baseline for pricing and statting the gear these things carry?

How would an underwater origin affect their psychology and society? What physiological features would fit (while still remaining at least roughly humanoid)?
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

One of the first things I would look into was how they developed and worked technology.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

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Originally Posted by Dorin Thorha View Post
Movement would presumably require battlesuits or wheeled vehicles. The need to fill living quarters with high-pressure water would have interesting effects. Is there any baseline for pricing and statting the gear these things carry?
This part at least is relatively simple to stat with Disadvantages. Increased Life Support (Pressurized) [-10] (B139) is appropriate, as is No Legs (Aquatic) [-10] or (Semi Aquatic) [0] (B145). Doesn't Breathe (Gills only) [0] (B49) means they can only breathe underwater. Their higher-than-normal native pressure may be a feature, though if they have a wider range of survivable pressures than humans they may need Pressure Support [5-15] (B77). If they are well-suited to navigating in 3 dimensional environments they could have 3D Spatial Sense [10] (B34), equally applicable underwater and in space.
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:05 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

@Refplace: Well, that does provide a huge motivation for their initial "land program": if weightlessness provides us with the ability to make some things we couldn't otherwise, imagine how much bigger this would have been. Once they managed to establish a presence on the surface I bet they would have a huge tech boom. The question of what they could make advanced things underwater is an interesting one: biotech is the most obvious option, and I expect even as they progress their stuff is going to take a lot of design features from deep-sea mollusks and crustaceans. I guess the biggest issue is how they would obtain a metal equivalent. Maybe they forged things in deep-sea magma vents? What possible tricks could they use to create air pockets underwater for doing experiments in? If they had a process that created some kind of gas, could they trap it under a dome until they produced a dry (and highly pressurized) space in which metalworking could be done?

@vieramarius: 3D Spatial Sense was pretty much the first trait on the template. In fact, part of the reason I created this creature was to come up with a species that had a natural reason to have it. I'll look into Increased Life Support. Any ideas as to what would be reasonable DR and mobility for a suit that has to hold water at deep-ocean pressures to be comfortable would be? I'm actually tempted to give it Fragile (Explosive) considering that any breach would release the water rather violently.
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

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Originally Posted by Dorin Thorha View Post
@vieramarius: 3D Spatial Sense was pretty much the first trait on the template. In fact, part of the reason I created this creature was to come up with a species that had a natural reason to have it. I'll look into Increased Life Support. Any ideas as to what would be reasonable DR and mobility for a suit that has to hold water at deep-ocean pressures to be comfortable would be? I'm actually tempted to give it Fragile (Explosive) considering that any breach would release the water rather violently.
It depends on just how pressurized it needs to be. The TL10 Hostile Environment Suit (UT184) is rated for 50 atm, so probably describes the upper bound of what would be required. They might be able to get away with something akin to the Marine Combat Walker, rated for 10 atm. This is assuming that it's as easy keeping pressure in as keeping it out, which may not be the entirely true, in which case I'd just go with the HEX. And at 1 ton, it would qualify them for Increased Life Support (Massive) [-10] as well.

Of course, you may want to tweak the stats for it somewhat. I'd leave the DR and mass the same, but it may be more expensive, or have less radiation protection or temperature range. Its ST boost is more modest than the other powered suits, so probably won't create a balance problem. In fact, you may want to design a combat variant for them, with improved ST, DR and mobility. Maybe something like +50% ST, DR and mass, +1 Move, and +100% cost.

Last edited by vierasmarius; 06-21-2012 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

Well they cant really do weightless, its buoyancy. the difference is all that water around will cause a lot of tech retardation. Heat spreads so maybe they develop early sealed armor to help with forging.
Or Waldo type arms.
Biotech would give them some options, bio electricity and hydro-power but coming up with electricity in the first place probably took longer.
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorin Thorha View Post
What physiological features would fit (while still remaining at least roughly humanoid)?
so you want roughly humanoid aquatic aliens? hmm... thats a pretty kettle of fish. I suppose I have a few questions about assumptions:

how big are the caves? this will tell you if they climb, or if they swim. Is this ocean open to space, or is the top protected by rock? This will effect where they get their energy from. Depending on how you want things to work, gas bubbles trapped by rock could be extremely common.
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

Native to pitch black caves, so do they have eyes?
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:51 PM   #9
Dorin Thorha
 
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

Yes, one potential effect is they will have a lot more time to develop socially thanks to the difficulties of developing technology. I'm assuming their underwater world has relatively rich resources and biodiversity (although I haven't quite settled on how exactly their ecosystem works. Ocean vents are the most obvious source of input energy, but there might be other options). Heat dissipation would make forging even a very simple metal tool require great effort and ingenuity, so it probably won't happen on a large scale until much later in the tech progression. In it's place they'll have plenty of shells and carapaces and that sort of thing, but they won't always be conveniently shaped... I wonder if it would work to introduce some coral-like species that can be "trained" over prebuilt frames to make strong, airtight devices. That might mean making anything large would take a very long time (possibly justifying knowledge of growth acceleration).
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Alien Race] Fish Out Of Water?

Some creatures around black smokers, I believe, use iron sulfide in their shells.
Cold seeps have methane ice.
You might be able to use those for something interesting.
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