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Old 07-12-2022, 02:29 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2019
Default [Space] [Racial Templates] Really Alien Aliens

Here be... well, not dragons, but some really weird things for your game. These alien races are written with a specific background in mind (it emerges through the "description" text) but should fit in any space-operatic background and even some relatively realistic ones. I've avoided magic and psychic powers for that reason. I'd love suggestions on how to improve these designs!

I've played around making aliens in GURPS since the original Aliens book came out, and one thing I've always tried to do -- and which GURPS 4e is especially good for -- is have them make biological and evolutionary sense in a genuinely alien way. Have I succeeded? How can I do better? I'd love feedback on that too.

I'll be posting more as I go, but first up are the first species to achieve Faster-Than-Light travel (in my setting; in another setting, they might have simply carved out a local empire and first-contacted a bunch of pre-FTL races): the Trinocs.

Details are in spoiler tags to prevent Wall Of Text.

Skittish but brilliant, they once conquered the galaxy in a fit of panic.


[EDIT: I've extensively revised the racial template to reflect some very helpful feedback from this thread -- click here for the final version of the Trinocs.]

Racial Template: Trinoc (18 points)

Last edited by SydneyFreedberg; 08-11-2022 at 08:25 PM. Reason: linked to revised template
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Old 07-12-2022, 02:35 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2019
Default Re: [Space] [Racial Templates] Really Alien Aliens

And to continue, here are the races that dominate my setting in the "present," the Quartet -- four species with one intertwined history & society, and five different templates because one species has marked sexual dimorphism (and it takes two posts because the description is long):

The Quartet
Four closely allied species that live & work together: exuberant Triphibians, meditative Sessiles, stealthy Armstrongs, and above all the towering Striders.

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Old 07-12-2022, 02:39 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2019
Default Re: [Space] [Racial Templates] Really Alien Aliens

The Quartet Today

Racial Templates

[EDIT: I've revised these templates in response to the great feedback in this thread -- click here for the final versions.]

Female Strider (133 points)

Male Strider (137 points)

Armstrong (62 points)

Sessile (26 points)

Triphibian (26 points)

Last edited by SydneyFreedberg; 08-11-2022 at 08:26 PM. Reason: added link to revised templates
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Old 08-01-2022, 09:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Space] [Racial Templates] Really Alien Aliens

comments on the races I find the most interesting first:

On Sessiles:
  • +2 IQ is a pretty big deal, based on just how broad Gurps IQ is. It benefits social skills, academic skills, and crafting skills like fishing. It also effects will. I find racial templates are generally better if the broad bonus is traded in for a more specific one, and if they really call for additional IQ, +1 is usually enough.
  • The extra arms of the sessiles could use some work. In Gurps we buy the effect, not the description. I find most tentacled Aliens shouldn't have an arm for each tentacle: the exception is if they really are that good at grappling. The sessiles are obviously not: you came up with a custom limitation to indicate they can't grapple with all of their arms at once. This would also indicate that they don't really have flexible. so They might just have extra arms 2 (short -50%) [10], arms (short -50%) [-10].
  • Which brings up a build issue: you need to modify the existing arms as well as the extra ones.
  • The seven extra mouths is an interesting case: the creature has them, and while they don't breathe, they do all bit and speak... though it seems they bite poorly. I feel like this should have a solution, but I'm not sure what it is. I certainly wouldn't want to pay 21 points for the ability to speak in 8 different voices if I somehow acquire that many copies of compartmentalized mind.
  • Invertebrate is a weird combination with Sessile. Sessile kind of makes invertebrate irrelevant.
On Triphibians:
  • Is absolute direction a necessary part of the build? I can see it as a fun little add on, but the sort of thing that fades when you live in a civilization. Changing it to something that is common but not required would be nice.
  • Shouldn't Triphibians have one arm, if they're just picking things up in their mouths?
  • They're very mobile. You've refference waterfowl, but they can run faster, swim faster, dive deeper, and fly just as well. You could remove pressure support and enhanced move (water), and buy down their ground move by 1 (I usually do that or more for creatures that crawl) and you'd still have a very capable mover.
  • Giving the whole race curious and impulsive is very strong and potentially crippling. I'm drop that to quirks, and stick the full version in "common traits". Same for Chummy.
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Old 08-01-2022, 11:16 AM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: [Space] [Racial Templates] Really Alien Aliens

Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
[*]The seven extra mouths is an interesting case: the creature has them, and while they don't breathe, they do all bit and speak... though it seems they bite poorly. I feel like this should have a solution, but I'm not sure what it is.
I created a Limited Extra Mouth Perk with several different variants. It might be useful in this case:

Limited Extra Mouth †‡ (Physical, Exotic)
You have one or more orifices or other body parts which can perform one function that a fully functional mouth can, even if the main mouth is blocked or damaged. You may take multiple levels of this perk to represent multiple orifices. You must specify the location of the extra body part(s) when you take this perk. Options include:

Biter: You have a tooth-lined mouth-like organ which you can use to make a Bite attacks, just as if it was your regular mouth. You can’t swallow things you bite off, however, meaning that your biter can be blocked if you can’t spit them out. Unless your biting part is located in a head or limb, or you take this perk with the Born Biter feature, you have an extra -2 penalty to hit.

Extra Digestive Intake: You can consume soft food and liquids through this orifice, but can’t bite or taste using it. It can suffer the effects of Retching and can ingest Digestive poisons and similar damaging items, just like your regular mouth.

Extra Respiratory Intake: You can breathe through this orifice. It can be attacked with Choke or Strangle attacks just like a normal mouth or throat, however and can suffer from Coughing and Sneezing, as well as respiratory poisons and hazards.

Extra Tasting Organ: You have a tongue-like organ you can use to taste with. It can be affected normally by materials which blind or overwhelm your sense of taste. Since it is separate from your digestive intake(s) however, you can’t be poisoned by digestive toxins you taste.

Extra Vocal Processor: You can speak using this orifice just as if it were a normal mouth and throat. It can be affected by attacks and hazards which limit your ability to speak, but isn’t affected by hazards which just affect the respiratory system. This is similar to Accessory (Speaker or Voder).

Multi-Function Orifices: If you can combine multiple functions into a single orifice by buying multiple versions of this perk. For example, an orifice which you can only use to bite, taste, and ingest food and drink with would be worth 3 points. In effect, each “missing” function is a -20% limitation on the cost of Extra Mouth.
Cost for these perks depends on effect, rather than actual number. For example, if you have 8 vocal processors, but you must use them in sets of four to properly speak, you just have one level of the Extra Vocal Processor Perk.

Alternately, apply each missing mouth function as a -20% limitation to Extra Mouth.

Apply Weak Bite as an overall disadvantage, regardless of how many mouths are affected. If it applies to only half of your mouths or less, buy it with a -50% limitation.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 08-01-2022 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 08-01-2022, 06:54 PM   #6
Join Date: May 2019
Default Re: [Space] [Racial Templates] Really Alien Aliens

Very helpful comments — thanks to you both. Sessiles definitely gave me the most trouble , and I’ll rewrite them with a less literal application of “extra mouths,” “extra arms,” and “invertebrate.” I’ll ponder Triphibians too; though I quite like them all having Absolute direction, I can see the mental disadvantages might be overdone.

A question about Striders: Is there any way to depict a large herbivore like this without buying up ST so high? I didn’t see another way to do it but it’s an odd use of points for a race whose role is really “highly social Lawful Good/neutral organizers and diplomats.”
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