Sim Tips - Creating Alien Races | UFOP: StarBase 118 Star Trek RPG

Sim Tips – Creating Alien Races

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By Captain Rocar Drawoh Hilzarie

There will always come a time when your Captain and crew will require the creation of an entirely new alien race for a mission. Creating this entirely new civilisation will often seem an exciting prospect to some, yet a daunting idea to many others. In my column this week I will offer a handful of tips on how to make this aspect of simming with the UFoP a little less daunting if any of you want to create a new Race for a future mission.

Firstly, consistency is vital as the sim will be stronger if your new race is the same by the end of the mission as it was at the start. For this a little planning goes a long way and you ought to give thought to more than just the aliens’ appearance. What becomes vital is their culture, history, current politics and social structure. As such I would suggest that just one or two players (working together OOC) create and sim the new aliens… at least at first.

One of the best and easiest ways to do this successfully is base your new race on an existing civilisation in Earth’s history. This can be a major civilisation like the Ancient Egyptians or could be a small group such as hill farmers on the Shetland Isles; It could also be a modern day country (like France) or a lost ancient civilisation (like the Aztecs). This may sound like a cop out, but it’s certainly a cop out that many have taken in the past. If we look at canon Star Trek’s major races then we can see how aspects of the Romulans are lifted straight from Roman history (with Senates and Praetors to the very names of Romulus and Remus,) ; the Klingons took on many aspects of Ancient Japan and their relationship with the Federation echoed the USA/USSR cold war right through to Star Trek VI when the Empire could no longer afford the stand-off. Aspects of other Sci-Fi such as Babylon 5 or Star Wars also use this pilfering of real life history to create races.

The civilisation you chose to base your new race on will depend on the mission. If your Captain wants agressors then a race based on Germany under Nazism works better than if he asks you to create a non-militaristic race that have suffered and require your ship’s assistance. Having picked your civilisation you should then spend some time reading everything you can get your hands on about them. In this way, whatever your crewmates bring up at any point in the mission you’ll be able to provide an IC answer to without to much trouble. So if you’re in an action based mission on starships and a character suddenly asks your alien about their religion or the political system back on their homeworld you will not be caught off-guard but can lift an answer straight from your knowledge of the civilisation on which the aliens are based. Likewise, if the race is used in a future mission you’d hit on the same answer a second time without having to keep too much of a record.

Another good technique is to include a “shock tactic” in the fabric of your new race’s society or traditions etc. This can be anything from a Matriarchal society (where women are the dominant leaders,) to a society that keeps slaves or a slave race. It could be the society’s stance on terrorism or violence to support their causes, it could be that homosexuality is the norm or outlawed – it could even be to do with how your new race treat/neglect their old or children. Too many of these “shock tactics” make for a sim that will be found too controversial by many and detracts from the other qualities of your race, however one or two add a little flavour and give players something to debate and respond to IC. If you do this, make sure you consider what Federation citizens would find shocking IC in contrast to what the OOC reader may found shocking today as by the 24th century many taboo issues may have passed.

Likewise, consider your new race’s appearance. Will your crewmates find them attractive or repulsive? Are the humanoid? If they come from a hot-planet then they could be reptilians; if they come from a glacial planet why not feline races such as the Ktarians?! Be careful of being to wild in your creations though if they have gills and fins you need to consider how they survive in our environment. Even features like claws and tentacles could raise questions as to how they created space faring vessels (our opposable thumbs really do give terrans an advantage!)

Finally some points to consider in creating a new race of aliens:

  • Who are the different races/ social categories (classes) of these aliens?
  • Where have they come from?
  • What are their religions?
  • Do they have any special customs?
  • How dense are the populations? Why are they in space?
  • What is their level of technology?
  • How do they  dress?
  • How are they governed? Is it a strict police state or is it more of a relaxed hippy style commune?
  • What are the principles of crime and punishment?
  • How do families operate? Are these values important or shunned? Do they love? Do they have sex? How often do they breed? How long do they live? Do they select a lifetime mate? How many in a relationship… 2 like Terrans or 4 like Andorians?
  • How are they governed? Empire? Monarchy? President? Senate?
  • What rituals surround births and deaths?
  • Are there any special gestures or pleasantries commonly used by inhabitants?
  • What are the inhabitants’ values and ethics for home and work?

You do not need answers to every single one of these before starting to use the race for a mission; however they are points that you ought to consider and be prepared to provide information for. Not only are these things likely to crop up in the duration of the mission, but also if the creator of the new alien race is able to include them then the entire crew will come away with a greater satisfaction as the new aliens feel more like a real canon star trek race. And who knows, if you create the race early on in your UFoP career and they crop up in several missions over the years then one day you may even get the chance to put them forward to the Captain’s Council to be voted in as canon to this fleet’s intelligent life form index!