In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but strife over resources and ideology persists. Open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, thrusts Terrans onto a larger stage, but can they survive?
Fellow role-players, here is my latest post about my upcoming “Vortex” space opera campaign. I recently outlined the options for humans and “near–humans,” and here is information about extraterrestrial species that interact with humans and that can be used for Player Characters.
Any sentient species within 300 light years of the Sol system is aware of humanity, but most of them have their own methods of communication and had little interest in one of several noisy backwaters, until recently….
Gustrall — flightless avian warriors
These bipeds evolved on the temperate plains of Irioth, the seventh moon of gas giant Birkomax, which orbits Firneq. They resemble flightless birds or raptors, with large beaks and muscular legs. However, they have hooves, orange fur, and antlers (actually breathing tubes), as well as small, double-jointed arms under
the “shoulders” of their legs.
The Gustrall (singular and plural are the same) have a long history of warfare, not unlike Terrans, and they had conquered all nearby solar systems before their greatest strategist, Kroac, became a pacifist. Gustrall tend to be reserved, honorable, and stubborn. They are only slightly more technologically advanced than the Sol system and can eat all Terran foods.
Nethians — insectoid scientists
The vegetarian Nethians evolved in the highlands of Oromekl 6 (which has a bit less gravity than Earth), and these explorers have named each planet they’ve settled since a supernova destroyed their homeworld thousands of years ago “Oromekl.” Each Nethian has six legs, all ending in three-clawed hands. They tend to walk on the rear two sets, have four eye/ear/nose stalks, and are covered in a smooth, gray exoskeleton. Nethians breathe through breathing holes along their thoraxes and have foldable wings for gliding. They are
excellent climbers but poor swimmers.
Nethians have an extremely hierarchical culture, but they do not have a hive mind and no longer enslave other species. In fact, these sentients enjoy public debate, and unlike many aliens, they discovered interstellar Transit on their own in vast, mazelike ships. Nethians are longtime allies of the Trinoids and appreciate
Terran inventiveness but are at a loss when faced with Gustrall tempers, Olvar humor, or human diversity.
Olvar — mammal-like mystics and pranksters
Of all the aliens that humans first encounter, they’re predisposed to liking the Olvar, which resemble primates or felines with tails, pointed ears, and multicolored short fur. (Yes, they’re similar to Elves or James Cameron’s Na’vi, but they were created years ago.) The Olvar evolved in the forests and mountains of Velthis Major, also known as Thurbast 3b. They can eat some human foods, and like chocolate, which is intoxicating to them.
The Olvar are known for their artistic sense, tribal organization, and sense of humor, and they are fond of ever-shifting Terran popular culture. In fact, generations ago, gray-suited Olvar adolescents were responsible for some human folklore of extraterrestrial visitors! Of the species presented here, the Olvar are most likely to study mysticism, and they are serious about recording and preserving history.
Ru’ulok — heavy-G reptilian pirates
The Ru’ulok are bipeds from Ru’okkal/Cralari 5 but are shorter and stockier than Terrans. They’re covered in small green scales and have gills where human ears would be, and their faces look somewhat simian. Although Ru’ulok internal organs are arranged in much the same way as human organs, these carnivores’ biochemistry isn’t compatible.
After generations of an oppressive caste system, the Ru’ulok distrust organization, such as those of the Nethians and Trinoids, and they don’t like the wealth disparities among humans. Although they communally share booty, the Ru’ulok compete to see who can get the best deals, find the most valued artwork or trade goods, or impress the most of their peers.
Trinoids — trilateral amphibious terraformers
The least humanoid of the aliens listed here, Trinoids evolved in the shallow areas of their “Home Sea,” or Hydronicus 2. They resemble Terran anemones or squid and have a barrel-shaped body, six stubby legs/feet, and three flexible arms ending in two spikes and three tapered fingers each. Trinoids have three sensory organs around a beaked mouth at the top of their blue-green torsos, but they communicate subsonically from ventral gills.
Trinoids have slowly but patiently expanded into the Orion Arm and are the founders of the Kharvamid Alliance to respond to the approaching Zarkonian Armada. Humans have difficulty understanding Trinoid society, which is based on the “Six Legs” — budding, food and photosynthesis, ethics, technology, strategy,
and Galactic commerce — with no clear divisions between the individual and government or corporate and religious affairs. However, Trinoids do have individual personalities, and they enjoy interacting with other species.
Some other aliens:
–Cestolar — short, hairy clients of the Olvar
–Laransans (created by Erik B.L.) — telepathic humanoid guardians
–Ma’ari (created by Jenna P.) — diminutive wanderers
–Meorr (created by David F.R-B.) — blue-furred lion-like berserkers
The aliens of “Vortex” are intended to be different, relatable, and worthwhile alternatives to human Player Characters. Interstellar travelers communicate via robotic translators, telepathy, or approximations via “Galactic standard” languages. While most of you are probably thinking of Star Trek or Star Wars, I’d also recommend looking at Star Frontiers, David Brin’s Uplift novels, or Farscape.