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Author Topic: How are your nonhumans different?  (Read 722 times)

HappyDaze

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2021, 09:57:02 AM »
Something that I have found in every RPG that I have run or played is that while you can make your non-humans different and unique, getting the Players to play their non-human characters as such is damn near impossible.

That and the lil thing of people then complaining that the races are to alien or needlessly alien. Why the hell are these elves acting like eldritch abominations? Why are they even a PC race? Storygamers might dig it. The average player will not.

Meh.  If you want to play a human, play a human.  Nonhuman races that are just humans in funny suits like Star Trek are really boring.
When I've run Star Trek games, many of the players choose to play non-humans. It has not led to boring play.
Well, since it wasn't boring for you, it's obviously never been boring for anyone else...
Most people that go into a Star Trek game know what they're getting into, so fuck off now.

JeffB

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2021, 10:00:50 AM »
Mine are very different because they do not exist  in my homebrew setting/s  ;D As mentioned above, most players just don't play them as very different than humans, and IME the players are looking for crunch benefits only.

For one setting I do keep Gnomes, but they are bog standard early AD&D type Gnomes and not the Tinker/Steampunk types of later days. I kept them because so many players hate to play Humans, and also hate Gnomes most of all out of the demi-humans. Take That Annoying Players! (I just came up with a new Tunnels & Trolls spell, ha!)

Personally I think Gnome Illusionists are pretty fun, I often have them as a NPC in my campaigns, either as friend or foe.

Ghostmaker

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2021, 01:09:13 PM »
Generally, a good rule of thumb is that the 'closer' a critter lives to the Material Plane, the better it understands how it works. This is a metaphysical idea rather than geographic.

Good example: genies and fey. Because genies and fey have had existences interwoven with mortals for millennia, they tend to have a better handle on what motivates things. But they also usually take long-term views since time for them is less of a factor. Dragons tend to be the same way.

Elementals and natives of the outer planes are even more alien because their nature and existence are defined by certain narrow parameters. For elementals, obviously, it's their element. A rare few can wrap their heads around 'mortal' existence -- invisible stalkers and mephits spring to mind -- but as Ratman points out, all a fire elemental wants to do is burn things. That's what it does.

Food as a doorway into racial mentalities is a great idea as well. Halflings and gnomes like to eat varied meals (and in halflings' cases, a lot of them). Elves tend to eat more often but smaller meals, especially foods that can be eaten on the go. Dwarves brew spirits and beers, but are skilled at salting, pickling, and preserving as well.

Eirikrautha

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2021, 03:08:39 PM »
Something that I have found in every RPG that I have run or played is that while you can make your non-humans different and unique, getting the Players to play their non-human characters as such is damn near impossible.

That and the lil thing of people then complaining that the races are to alien or needlessly alien. Why the hell are these elves acting like eldritch abominations? Why are they even a PC race? Storygamers might dig it. The average player will not.

Meh.  If you want to play a human, play a human.  Nonhuman races that are just humans in funny suits like Star Trek are really boring.
When I've run Star Trek games, many of the players choose to play non-humans. It has not led to boring play.
Well, since it wasn't boring for you, it's obviously never been boring for anyone else...
Most people that go into a Star Trek game know what they're getting into, so fuck off now.
So, because your players know they're going to be bored going into it, it's ok to be boring?  Gotcha.  And right back at you, with your narcissistic world-view.

FingerRod

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2021, 04:34:03 PM »
In one of my current games, humans have true character class options, while everything else is race as class.

An elf starts with a randomly determined spell from the enchantment/charm or illusion spell list. A second spell ability unlocks at fourth level, and then another at 8th, but again, they are determined randomly. It represents unlocking more of their elven nature, not advancement through learning and training. A human who uses magic has choice, can research/create new spells and has your traditional spell books and vancian magic mechanics.

HappyDaze

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2021, 04:40:30 PM »
Something that I have found in every RPG that I have run or played is that while you can make your non-humans different and unique, getting the Players to play their non-human characters as such is damn near impossible.

That and the lil thing of people then complaining that the races are to alien or needlessly alien. Why the hell are these elves acting like eldritch abominations? Why are they even a PC race? Storygamers might dig it. The average player will not.

Meh.  If you want to play a human, play a human.  Nonhuman races that are just humans in funny suits like Star Trek are really boring.
When I've run Star Trek games, many of the players choose to play non-humans. It has not led to boring play.
Well, since it wasn't boring for you, it's obviously never been boring for anyone else...
Most people that go into a Star Trek game know what they're getting into, so fuck off now.
So, because your players know they're going to be bored going into it, it's ok to be boring?  Gotcha.  And right back at you, with your narcissistic world-view.
No, it's because that kind of alien is a part of the ST experience. In a similar manner, demihumans that are almost entirely human-like in their motivations and behaviors are a part of mainstream D&D games.

DocJones

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2021, 05:06:41 PM »
Quote
   
How are your nonhumans different?
I put little ridges on their noses, or make their ears pointy.
My players never suspect a thing.


Jam The MF

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2021, 05:24:56 PM »
All my demi-humans are exactly that. Human but different. So I personalize elves, halflings, etc with cultural ques like certain foods and games and dress that make them stand out from baseline human culture. But might mesh with some foreign human cultures if they ever met or exist in that setting.

I had an older thread here on this sort of thing but cant seem to find it now.

But imagine things like Dwarves liking say 3D Dragon Chess from dragon mag. Or Halflings liking Xiang-qui. Elves liking weird stuff like elven equivalents of Clue and Monopoly. heh-heh.

Or say Dwarven foods feature alot of sweets and spices. Halflings might produce various pastas and sauces. Elves might like things like sushi and such. In one setting belonging to a publisher I was working with to turn into a full fledged RPG, Orcs produce some of the best pastries ever.

Another idea that Bruce Corbell showed me way back was to think about how a races advanced senses might impact art and such. Like a race that can see into the infra-red or ultra-violet might produce paintings using colours imperceptible to standard human vision. Same for music.

That even came up in Knights of the Old Republic years later as you meet an alien in a bar that is two fused creatures. Turns out the second head IS talking. But in a range imperceptible to humans and using tonal combos pretty much impossible for a human or most standard races to reproduce.

This will also impact how those races see human art and even clothes as we might be using unknowingly hues that to them clash or look really off. Like how many flowers look very different to bees and other animals with different perceptual ranges.

Now on the other hand if my elves are not demi-humans then all bets are off what the hell they are and they might be fairly alien in outlook and more like any given Lovecraft outer beings. Heck even looking at them night not be necessarily a safe thing.


I'm struggling to picture Orcs fretting about over pastries?  That's a creative spin on the lore of the setting; but it's akin to the Incredible Hulk doing floral arrangements.
I need you to roll a perception check.

Wrath of God

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2021, 07:10:50 PM »
Quote
The Cruach are thought to be descended from the fae of the mountains, beings of earth and stone. The Cruach are shorter than regular humans and thickly built, with pale white skin, white or light gray hair, and light gray eyes. The Cruach are very traditional people, who speak the ancient fae language first and the language of the Tuatha secondly, they seldom learn other languages. Tuatha is covered with ancient stone structures created by the Cruach and their ancestors.

The Cruach are extremely conservative and patriarchal, with duty and loyalty to family as one of their most cherished virtues. Men are expected to be warriors, to be brave and stoic without fail. A woman is expected to completely obey her father and then her husband. Cruach women watch the home and hearth, bearing and raising children, while the men rule and war. Because the females so seldom leave the home, some people outside of the Cruach lands have come to the erroneous conclusion that either all Cruach are male or that the female Cruach are indistinguishable from men. This is entirely false, Cruach have the same sort of sexual dimorphism as normal humans, including facial hair for men and none for women.

The Cruach are very long lived, even for fae blooded. It is not uncommon for a Cruach to live four or five centuries before starting to show signs of old age, sometimes considerably longer for those whose Fomori blood is particularly strong.

Contrary to the myth of female Cruach not existing, they actually outnumber the men. The Cruach practice polygamy and young men often have to prove themselves in battle or service to their family in order to procure a wife – leading to a higher attrition rate for men.

The Cruach are known for their incredible strength and durability as well as their martial prowess and bravery. They have an even deeper sense of honor and code of conduct than other fae blooded and feel that they each have a duty to their family as well as the humans under their watch, though their ancestors most of all.

The Cruach make some of the finest steel in the world, crucible steel made from iron and the ashes of a cremated Cruach ancestors. The ashes of the greatest warriors are said to create the highest quality steel, though as a matter of pride most Cruach will only own a weapon or suit of armor made from their own ancestor. It is seen as a terrible insult for a non-Cruach to wield a weapon made of Cruach steel unless it is a weapon gifted by Crom Cruach himself.

Those Cruach who have accomplished things in their lives – great warriors, leaders, or craftsmen, mothers who have given birth to many children, those who have lived to great age – are cremated after death so that their spirits may move on and their essence used to create Cruach steel. Those whose lives were cut short are buried beneath the earth so that their spirits may return to the earth and so be born again to live a more full life in the future.

Cruach have what may be the oldest recorded history in Tuatha, perhaps the world, with stone tablets recording events related to the Cruach and their ancestors going back thousands of years. The Cruach language is thought to be identical to that spoken by the Fomori ancestors, preserved for thousands of years while the other Fianna families allowed the true language of the Fomori to degenerate.

Cruach worship their ancestors in temples made of stone. The most sacred have been formed out of massive stony mountains, immense structures that even the greatest of Cruach stone workers cannot replicate it. In the hills and valleys, where many Cruach dwell, temples consist of circles of huge standing stones.

The king of the Cruach, in fact of Tirna Nairn, is called Crom Cruach or also The King of the Mountain. All Cruach adults swear oaths of loyalty to Crom Cruach. This obedience must be absolute, any command of Crom Cruach must be obeyed without question, even taking ones own life. Crom Cruach is seen as heir of the first King of the Mountain, the greatest of the elders who helped to create the earth, and he sits upon the Quartz Throne, that none may approach save upon their knees in supplication to Crom Cruach. For all practical purposes, he is seen as a god-king to the Cruach and serves as both the secular and religious authority of the nation.

Honor is almost everything to the Cruach and it is nearly universally seen as better to die than to act in a dishonorable way. In practice, some more sly Cruach can technically act within the bounds of honor while violating the spirit – for this is rare. The Cruach have a tradition of dueling, though unlike many human cultures where the aggrieved party challenges his target, the Cruach go directly to their king and ask permission from him. If Crom Cruach grants the request, then both people must accept his conditions, if Crom Cruach refuses permission, then the topic must be dropped and forgotten and no duel can happen.

When the Cruach go to war, the typically fight in a way reminiscent of hoplites, with large round shields, long one handed spears, a short sword, and with mail armor. Often the Cruach will carry several war darts to hurl at the enemy before or after an engagement. Cruach seldom use other missile weapons save for slings, though with their great strength they can hurl large stones or bullets a great distance. It isn’t unusual for the Cruach to carry slings in the event that missile weapons are required to attack a more mobile foe. A few Cruach arm themselves differently, either with long pikes or great swords, both of which are a minority within a large unit of men with spears and shields. The swordsmen (who sometimes wear heavier armor) aggressively charge into enemy ranks, sometimes to create breaches in shield walls, while the pikemen attack from behind or move forward to receive cavalry charges. Cruach seldom make use of horses or other riding animals in warfare, though sometimes they will bring mounted human followers to supplement their forces.

The castle of Crom Cruach is Mynad Bael. It is a vast complex carved from the stone of the mountain which shares the same name. It is said that Mynad Bael was created by the Fomori themselves to serve as home form which to rule over mortals, and indeed the artistry and engineering used to create this mountain fortress is not understood by even the most skilled Cruach architects or engineers. The fortress itself is impregnable, no enemy has breached it in the long memory of the Cruach.

All Cruach men are expected to participate at least once in the Clan Wars, a great battle held once every 12 years where the Cruach Clans fight each other in ritual combat.

The Clan Wars, or Dalaigh Codach in the Cruach language, are a major cultural ritual in Tirna Nairn. The great Clans of the Cruach arrange to have wars with each other, where the warriors of each extended family take to the battlefield to fight, and even to kill, other Cruach Clans. These wars happen every 12 years unless the Cruach are engaged in a war with some outside group, in which case the Clan wars are skipped. The Clan Wars are a Cruach tradition that goes back many thousands of years and so are important because of the Cruach’s love of tradition, but they are also seen as a way to maintain the valor and martial traditions of the Cruach people in times of extended peace.

The Clan Wars are a highly ritualized sort of warfare. The combatants obey a strict code of honor where injured men are not attacked, opponents who lose weapons are allowed to retrieve them, halts are called for the injured to receive treatment and for the dead to be removed from the battlefield, no hostages are taken nor is their looting or conquest. The violence remains strictly on the battlefield. Fleeing soldiers are also not attacked, though to flee in the heat of battle is seen as worse than death among the Cruach and so is exceedingly rare. Dishonorable conduct of any kind during the Clan Wars would carry terrible shame for not only the perpetrator, but his entire family.

Another odd quality of the Clan Wars is that there is no anger or hostility associated with it. After a day’s battle, members of both sides retire form the battlefield and join each other in great feasts where the regale each other with talk of the day’s fighting, making a point never to boast of one’s own deeds but those of other’s especially the enemy. While a Cruach who lost a brother on the battlefield would be sad, he would bear no ill will against his brother’s killer if the killing was done under honorable circumstances – the killer would be seen as one who gave the beloved brother an honorable death.

There is no looting or sacking during Clan Wars. Civilians, as well as castles and fortresses, are left alone completely. Though sometimes warriors who are particularly brave or talented might be given a gift by the Clan Patriarch, the opposing Clan, or even the King. The Clan who has the most and greatest victories are declared the winner of the Clan Wars by Crom Cruach, which give this Clan an honored position until the next Clan Wars.

When the Cruach king dies, a special Clan War is held, called the Great Clan War, or Dalaigh Bael Codach. The Patriarch of the winning Clan of the Great Clan War becomes the new Crom Cruach. The Clan of the last Crom Cruach is prohibited from taking part of the Great Clan War, so that the dominant Clan changes between reigns, though during the Great Clan War the next of kin of the deceased Crom Cruach serve as acting Crom Cruach, though with less authority.

All Cruach males are expected to participate in the Clan Wars at least once. In fact, doing so is a passage into manhood – if you have never tasted battle then you are but a boy among the Cruach. A Cruach warrior who has shed blood or been injured on the battlefield is said to be “blooded” and considered better than merely participating in the Clan Wars.

I must say - as much as it's very classical it's also really good adaptation of Dwarves into Celtic vibes, and fey mythology. Cudos.
Also YES - finally someone rationally armed Dwarves with spears which suits their build rather than making them swinging axes. YESSS.

robertliguori

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2021, 07:30:26 PM »
All my demi-humans are exactly that. Human but different. So I personalize elves, halflings, etc with cultural ques like certain foods and games and dress that make them stand out from baseline human culture. But might mesh with some foreign human cultures if they ever met or exist in that setting.

I had an older thread here on this sort of thing but cant seem to find it now.

But imagine things like Dwarves liking say 3D Dragon Chess from dragon mag. Or Halflings liking Xiang-qui. Elves liking weird stuff like elven equivalents of Clue and Monopoly. heh-heh.

Or say Dwarven foods feature alot of sweets and spices. Halflings might produce various pastas and sauces. Elves might like things like sushi and such. In one setting belonging to a publisher I was working with to turn into a full fledged RPG, Orcs produce some of the best pastries ever.

Another idea that Bruce Corbell showed me way back was to think about how a races advanced senses might impact art and such. Like a race that can see into the infra-red or ultra-violet might produce paintings using colours imperceptible to standard human vision. Same for music.

That even came up in Knights of the Old Republic years later as you meet an alien in a bar that is two fused creatures. Turns out the second head IS talking. But in a range imperceptible to humans and using tonal combos pretty much impossible for a human or most standard races to reproduce.

This will also impact how those races see human art and even clothes as we might be using unknowingly hues that to them clash or look really off. Like how many flowers look very different to bees and other animals with different perceptual ranges.

Now on the other hand if my elves are not demi-humans then all bets are off what the hell they are and they might be fairly alien in outlook and more like any given Lovecraft outer beings. Heck even looking at them night not be necessarily a safe thing.


I'm struggling to picture Orcs fretting about over pastries?  That's a creative spin on the lore of the setting; but it's akin to the Incredible Hulk doing floral arrangements.

Yeah, I'd want to know how you get there.  Pastries mean sugar, and sugar means trade networks or extensive vegetable processing, plus finely-ground wheat flour, which means large wheat field and advanced mills and a bunch of other things like that.

Now, if you wanted to start with the fact that orcs made pastries, then you could justify every step in that chain, if you really wanted to, but I'm curious how you'd make it justified. 

Ghostmaker

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2021, 08:19:17 PM »
All my demi-humans are exactly that. Human but different. So I personalize elves, halflings, etc with cultural ques like certain foods and games and dress that make them stand out from baseline human culture. But might mesh with some foreign human cultures if they ever met or exist in that setting.

I had an older thread here on this sort of thing but cant seem to find it now.

But imagine things like Dwarves liking say 3D Dragon Chess from dragon mag. Or Halflings liking Xiang-qui. Elves liking weird stuff like elven equivalents of Clue and Monopoly. heh-heh.

Or say Dwarven foods feature alot of sweets and spices. Halflings might produce various pastas and sauces. Elves might like things like sushi and such. In one setting belonging to a publisher I was working with to turn into a full fledged RPG, Orcs produce some of the best pastries ever.

Another idea that Bruce Corbell showed me way back was to think about how a races advanced senses might impact art and such. Like a race that can see into the infra-red or ultra-violet might produce paintings using colours imperceptible to standard human vision. Same for music.

That even came up in Knights of the Old Republic years later as you meet an alien in a bar that is two fused creatures. Turns out the second head IS talking. But in a range imperceptible to humans and using tonal combos pretty much impossible for a human or most standard races to reproduce.

This will also impact how those races see human art and even clothes as we might be using unknowingly hues that to them clash or look really off. Like how many flowers look very different to bees and other animals with different perceptual ranges.

Now on the other hand if my elves are not demi-humans then all bets are off what the hell they are and they might be fairly alien in outlook and more like any given Lovecraft outer beings. Heck even looking at them night not be necessarily a safe thing.


I'm struggling to picture Orcs fretting about over pastries?  That's a creative spin on the lore of the setting; but it's akin to the Incredible Hulk doing floral arrangements.

Yeah, I'd want to know how you get there.  Pastries mean sugar, and sugar means trade networks or extensive vegetable processing, plus finely-ground wheat flour, which means large wheat field and advanced mills and a bunch of other things like that.

Now, if you wanted to start with the fact that orcs made pastries, then you could justify every step in that chain, if you really wanted to, but I'm curious how you'd make it justified.
Well, before sugar cane and processing, there was honey. And I could easily see orcish beekeepers.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2021, 09:09:29 PM »
In general I would prefer to keep demi-humans to a minimum in my games (to conserve uniqueness) but Im running a established campaign at the moment (with the standard kitchen sink of stuff). So im improvising.

So what Im rolling with is that before there where any other species, Humanity (or Tallmen and Shortmen as they called themselves before) arrived on a uninhabited planet by meteor ship. This very arrival brought the idea of sentience to the world.

This caused the world to make other demi-humans in their image. But the most common non-human creatures (Elves, Orcs, Gnomes, Dwarves) are humans modified by the powers that inhabit the world.

Thats why we have the Star Trek 'Lumpy Foreheads and Talking animals' elements.

Charon's Little Helper

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2021, 09:34:24 PM »
In fantasy you can get away with it more, but in sci-fi I'm not a big fan of the rubber-forehead-aliens of the Star Trek variety. (Yes - I understand the necessity of that for a show with human actors - but TTRPGs aren't limited that way.

As an example of the non-human species in my setting (none of which are playable - PCs are human only):



The Builders
The builders, or turuni in their language, which means ‘builders’, were the first and only alien species to contact Earth, on August 16, 2038. 

The builders are much smaller than humans, most not more than one meter in height.  They have six limbs, two legs and four arms.  They have two much larger arms high on their shoulders which are awkward and used for heavy lifting, and two smaller arms which the builders use for more delicate work.

The builders vary in color in mottled grays and browns in order to blend into the stone of their home planet.

The final distinguishing feature of the builders is a thin vestigial shell which they carve and enamel with a record of the things which they personally have built along with other personal achievements.  We don’t know all of the specifics, but in general the more that their shells are enameled, the higher their standing in the builder’s society.  When shocked and frightened by events, they will sometimes partially retreat into their shells, though they cannot fit entirely inside and its protection would be minimal, this seems to be an instinctual reaction to stress.
Like most intelligent species, the builders are herbivores, occasionally even grazing, which, while the nutritional benefit is limited, they say that it is good for their digestion.

The builders are not only physically slow, but also mentally.  You shouldn’t take that to mean that they’re unintelligent; far from it.  However, they have trouble dealing with new situations without taking a lot of time, usually weeks or months, figuring out how to deal with it, preferring to rely upon slight variations of methods which have worked in the past.  They actually spent decades observing humans before first contact.  They often seem, at least to us humans, frozen in indecision. Many argue that this slowness is likely in part due to their lifespan of two to three Earth centuries, but that is unknown.

In most ways, the builders are the dominant force across the starlanes.  While there are many secondary factors, mostly to do with their technological knowhow; the primary reason is their control of the warp beacons.  The warp beacons are the only thing which allow the starlanes to be traversed with relative safety.  While there are still dangers such as the volucris and the occasional warp storm, the warp beacons allow interstellar travel to be more than jumping in the dark, and the builders charge tribute for the warp beacons’ use.

In recent decades there has been greater opposition to the builders’ de facto control of the starlanes, with propaganda such as Teardown the Builders encouraging open conflict with them.  This, as much as anything else, is why the builders recruited humanity to protect them and their facilities.
 
Background
The builders did not come to dominate their home planet in at all the same way that we humans did.  Being herbivores, they never made it to the top of their food chain.  Instead, the ancient builders used their plentiful native stone to wall off fields to protect them from their predators.  Eventually the top of the walls became their roadway, and the interior of the walls their homes.
Often predators would be trapped within the small fields as they were built, and the builders did not confront them, instead leaving them to die of starvation.  Eventually the builders literally covered their entire planet in these walled fields, wiping out the majority of their planet’s other large land species in the process.

Ghostmaker

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2021, 08:27:35 AM »
Andy Weir's new novel, Hail Mary, involves a first encounter with a -very- alien race (though thankfully, not alien enough to make it impossible to interact and communicate with).

The book's pretty good, and the development of the alien is pretty fascinating (they're monogendered silicon-based spider-like creatures who evolved on a planet with much higher atmospheric pressure and gravity).

HappyDaze

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Re: How are your nonhumans different?
« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2021, 10:22:18 AM »
Andy Weir's new novel, Hail Mary, involves a first encounter with a -very- alien race (though thankfully, not alien enough to make it impossible to interact and communicate with).

The book's pretty good, and the development of the alien is pretty fascinating (they're monogendered silicon-based spider-like creatures who evolved on a planet with much higher atmospheric pressure and gravity).
What works for an author doesn't necessarily work for a GM (and even more rarely for a player).