In SciFi stories, shows, movies, and other media, just how alien the ‘aliens’ turn out to be is often on a sliding scale of alien-ness. Sometimes they just have a different forehead (you know what shows I’m talking about) and sometimes they are so alien they are incomprehensible. Usually they fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two.
I’ve been thinking about this after doing a character sketch of one of my player’s Ysoki, and then being asked to make said character more ‘human’ in appearance. Neither is wrong, really, I just hadn’t realized my player’s internal vision of their character was more anthropomorphic than the race is typically depicted.
In Starfinder I feel like the norm is to go with ‘human-like with a few differences’ and certainly the core races fit this dynamic. Lashunta, Vesk, and Ysoki are relatably human while possessing enough differences to make them at the very least a Star Trek alien species. But with 4 Alien Archive books now, we definitely have a full array of options. Urogs or Quorlu are very different indeed, and both players and GM may have to work to make such a creature relatable in terms of experience and culture.
There’s no right answer to the question, I’m just interested in the space people’s games might occupy. Are your Barathu completely mysterious beings nearly incomprehensible in both mind and biology, or are they like Blasto the Hanar action hero from Mass Effect?
Perhaps the more interesting question is “how are they alien?” That can simply be a difference of biology, which can get as weird as your imagination can make it, or it could be cognitive and the mindset of the alien is such that their motives and emotions are completely inscrutable to humanity (a difficult feat to role play!) The answer is probably some mix of the two, but where you land for each alien species might vary.
Just something to think about for your games. I’d love to hear how people are handling this at their own tables!
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Until next time Starfinders!
Artist and Writer