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 Post subject: Scylior
PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:04 am 
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(Updated 04/04/2010 to the proper format, per viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4669)

Scylior

Intro/Summary- Aquatic Hybrid Cephalopod, a Nautiloid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nautilus) with three large tentacles, blindly following a religion of knowledge gathering given to them by an immobile sentient brain-growth.

Racial Type: Biological, Aquatic (Standard G Forces Preferred)
Construction Materials: Transparent Mineral, Low-tech Metal
Behavioral Archetype: Expansionist Researcher

Homeworld- Iapetus is an Ocean planet with normal gravity. It has a dense solid nickel-iron core extending from the center of the planet to a radius of roughly 2200km, followed by a liquid nickel-iron outer core which continues a further 1600km. The mantle has a depth of 1200km, composed of mainly magmic polymorphic rocks with a large magnesium and iron content. Upon the mantle sit the tectonic plates and a thin crust of varied depth and composition, from 2 to about 70 kilometers deep. The surface of the world is completely covered in water except at the polar caps where large glaciers rise from the waves. The oceans of the world are delineated by underwater features and the boundaries typically follow tectonic lines. They vary in depth from under 1km to over 35km deep, triple the depth of the terran Marianas Trench. The atmosphere is oxygenated and earth-like but has a significantly higher proportion of Argon and could not support Human life.

As mentioned, the planet is divided geologically along the tectonic fault lines. Iapetus has a high level of tectonic activity and this generates a significant amount of hydrothermal venting along the ocean floor. Volcanic activity provides localized heat sources, as well as spewing microbes into the surrounding ocean which serve as a source of food for small aquatic life, which in turn serve as food for larger forms of life. Many of these hydrothermal vents also emit minerals and metallic content from the mantle, so control of specific vents have historically been points of contention.

Deep beneath the ocean, the remnant of a once-mighty hive brain, referred to as the Mind, has finally reached out and contacted the planet's dominant race, and has instilled in them a mission to journey the stars in hopes of returning to it's former might.


Physical Description-
Scyliori are shelled cephalopods similar to a Nautilus. Their shell is coiled and when fully grown has a diameter of roughly 1 meter. They possess advanced vision provided by four eyes, two located on each side of the head so that the being has a 270 degree range of vision, and is capable of proper depth perception at all points. They have two separate "facial" orifices; a sharp beak (of the same material as the shell) which they use to consume food and eject waste, and a hyponome for breathing and jet propulsion underwater. The hyponome is a muscular tube through which water is forced over the gills, and the ejected water can be angled through a muscular nozzle to move the Scyliori underwater. Out of water or when moving around on the ocean floor, they may use their tentacles to assist in motion. Note that Scylior do not have lungs, and can only survive out of water for very short periods.

The Scyliori also have four antennae containing millions of neuromasts which effect a "lateral line" phenomena, allowing the Scyliori to detect changes in water pressure and also electrical fields. Objects in motion generate a wave of pressure which these receptors then detect and analyze. From the information gathered a Scylior can determine the size, speed, location, and direction of any moving object within a large radius.

Scyliori have three large, strong feeding tentacles which they use to grasp and hold tools, or food while it is broken up by the beak and ingested. These tentacles have fixed volume, but can be reduced in diameter to increase their length. This is caused by longitudal and radial muscles in the tentacles that expand and contract very rapidly, allowing a Scylior to quickly grab objects up to 3 meters away. At rest, the tentacles are roughly 1 meter long on a fully grown Scylior. They are affixed below the beak and eyes, equally spread around the hyponome.

The skin of a Scylior has colored pigments called chromatophores which they use for multiple purposes. They may bioluminesce to create light (visitors to a Scyliori cluster note that they do not typically bother with lighting, simply generating their own light to locate stationary objects undetected by their neuromasts). Their shell and beak will not bioluminesce, but their tentacles and exposed facial skin are capable of emitting light to approximately 10cd, or roughly 10 times the intensity of a wax candle.

The Chromatophores provide the race with their main form of communication. When two Scyliori wish to communicate with each other, they rapidly change the coloring and patterning of their skin. They are capable of communicating with more than one Scylior at a time as well. For example, a Scylior could converse with a Scylior on it's right by changing the patterning on it's right side, and another on it's left by changing the patterning on it's left side. This presents no challenge to an adult Scylior. This color-shifting ability is also how Scyliori express their moods and communicate with other races. Although they are capable of producing light at fairly high intensity, typically this luminescence is kept very low, just enough for it's pattern conversations to be understood by those nearby; excessive brightness would be the terran equivalent of shouting.

Scyliori are without gender and reproduce in an iteroparous style. All adults form a clutch of 2-4 eggs which they lay annually in a communal spawning bed. The lifespan of a Scylior is roughly 30 years. They never stop growing until death, hatching with a shell diameter of only 5cm and experiencing roughly 10 percent growth each year. In the last 6 years of their lives their physical strength begins to fade but their brain growth continues, so they are smartest right before they die. For this reason elders are valued.

Society- Scyliori are highly social. Originally they followed a simple elder system with the largest (and therefore oldest) as the leader. As the civilization grew in size and scope an age-based caste system was developed. Since all Scyliori of a certain age are analogous in size (including brain size), they are deemed to have analogous capabilities and are moved from job to job as they age. Younger Scyliori are smaller but extremely dextrous and are considered excellent for agility-demanding tasks or simple tasks such as minding the spawning and feeding beds. At the age of 15 these Scyliori are considered strong enough for more laborious tasks and are moved to construction, mining, military, and other strength intensive tasks. At the age of 24 they are considered elders and are exempt from all manual tasks. Scyliori of this age are engineers, scientists, military commanders, and politicians. Leaders are chosen from amongst the Scyliori who are 26 years old by an election of elders. This Scylior will then rule until it's death.

The Scylior treat the Mind as though it were a benevolent god. The Mind gave them knowledge and allowed them to become rulers of their world. They came to love learning things and sharing knowledge with the Mind, proud that they could serve their benefactor. They now have a warm relationship, with the Scylior elders continually informing the Mind of every detail they can discover in gratitude for their salvation as a young race.


History- Milennia ago, on a research expedition to Iapetus, the precursors discovered the denizens of the world under the total control of a massive hive mind. The precursors found that the large brain growth had only rudimentary support systems, but tremendous telepathic powers, and terrifying aggressiveness. The telepathic powers of the Mind were strong, but limited in range to the planet itself. Until the precursors arrived it had only primitive creatures of limited intellect from which to assimilate knowledge. When the precursors arrived it immediately reached out and began copying the knowledge they posessed. From the research scientists and their ship crews the Mind quickly assimilated many concepts of high technology, from simple mathematics to starflight. The Mind, however, had no body to utilize this knowledge, and no subservient beings evolved enough to make use of it. The Mind was defenseless as the researchers cut away and collected the large majority of the Mind and it's memories, taking it away for study and either presuming that the rest would not survive the loss, or not caring if it did. The Mind was packed up, and a cargo hold full of research tools, surveying mechanisms and crystal samples was dumped in the ocean to make room for it. The presursor scientists left the star system, absconding with their prize.

The remnant of the Mind, however, did survive, though greviously weakened and with many of it's memories lost. It had survived, but it now lusted to recover the memories that had been taken from it. The Mind, however, was immobile, and for the time being, had no nearby intelligent beings to act as it's hands. Enter the Scyliori.

Scyliori society began in simple clusters with the largest (and therefore oldest) member as the recognised leader. In their earliest recollections, they gathered around hydrothermal vents to prey on the smaller marine life these vents sustained. Initially the families of Scyliori would stay around each other simply for protection against larger predators, but each individual essentially spent all their time individually foraging for food or sleeping. They would lurk in fronds of ropy marine fauna to snatch and devour smaller creatures. Eventually they adopted the practise of harvesting the seaweed and crafting it into netting for the more efficient collection of food. Having a more abundant food source was the beginning of the caste system, as only a few Scylior were now needed to collect enough food for the cluster, and the rest could move on to other pursuits. Elder Scyliori would spend time determining how to improve the efficiency of regular activities, leading to the development of simple coral tools and weapons.

At this point in their history, the planet's ocean was dominated by primordial, colossal super-predators. These giants swam in the ocean devouring everything in their path, and fighting cataclysmic battles between each other for control of feeding grounds. Their primitive brains held only hunger, and operated entirely on instinct. The Scyliori were defenseless against these creatures and lived in constant fear of them. They spent any time they had not gathering food hiding in deep trenches in the ocean floor. It was one family cluster of Scyliori that first got close enough for the Mind to discover and contact it. The Mind had finally found a race with the intelligence necessary to be shaped into tools, although it no longer had the power to control them directly. The Mind had lost many of it's memories, but it understood the artifacts left lying around it, and it kept bits and pieces of knowledge from physics to computers to fission. The Scyliori therefore were given a headstart on their development by the Mind, and by tinkering with the advanced tools left behind by the precursors, their inquisitive nature allowed them to fill some of the gaps in the Mind's knowledge. By using these tools, they were able to experiment with air-filled enclosures more suited to construction and development of the various tools and technologies passed onto them by the Mind. Over time they had developed a technology-centric society, and were eventually able to hunt and destroy the once-dominant super-predators through use of tactics and more advanced sciences. With the seas now safe, the civilization flourished. Under the persistant guidance of the Mind, they continued to advance until their recent first successful starflight, and are now poised to scour the galaxy for knowledge to send back home for presentation to the Mind.

A reason for leaving the home planet- The Scyliori have been directed by the Mind to leave the planet and recover the rest of the Mind and it's memories, or failing that, to re-acquire the knowledge lost to it. They have nearly no moral compunction about what they do in the name of gathering knowledge and will happily destroy and dismember another species in order to learn what "makes them tick". They seek knowledge and are engaged in a galactic hunt for ruins or surviving members of other advanced races to learn from, or clues to the whereabouts of any remaining segments of the Mind.

General Ship and Building Design- Scyliori vessels are like interstellar aquariums, with multiple compartments filled with water. Every traversible inch of a ship is flooded. Their mastery of glassmaking and mineral processing in their early stages gave them an appreciation for transparent construction materials, making the ships even more "fishbowl-esque".

Effects-
Note that the Mind has no direct influence over the Scyliori. When it was first harvested by the precursors it lost the vast majority of it's telepathic capabilities and can no longer directly control another being, even at close range. It may communicate with another being and may convince it to do something, but it has no power to command. Scylior love the Mind, and wish to obtain information to present to it, but do so in their own way and of their own volition.

Bonus to research: Scyliori society revolves around obtaining knowledge and the simple fact that they can learn from doing something is enough justification to do it, almost regardless of the consequences to others. Scyliori will shy from preforming actions that directly threaten their own existence, but anything else is fair game. Their research methods would be considered brutal by members of other races and many typical methods of analysis used by the Scyliori would be avoided by another race as unnecessarily cruel or dangerous. They are insatiably curious, and have a natural grasp of engineering which allows them to quickly determine how a given object functions.

Aquatic: Scyliori are an aquatic race and cannot breathe air. Any colonization of a planet without surface oceans (Tundra, Barren, Toxic, Radiated) requires the Scyliori to create domed Aquariums to live in, which severely limits maximum population on planets of those types. Inferno planets cannot be colonized by Scyliori at all. On the other hand, planets with surface oceans provide a gigantic habitable space for Scylior to live in, as they are fairly tolerant of temperatures and can survive in equatorial or polar waters, giving them a bonus to maximum population on Terran, Swamp, Gaian or Ocean planets.

Penalty to diplomacy/trade: Scyliori view other races not so much as sentient beings, but as test subjects who simply aren't in a cage yet. They are willing to trade or form alliances, but do so more out of curiosity as to how the other race will react than out of a desire for economic benefit. They are therefore unskilled at barter and ambivalent about forming alliances unless directly threatened by a more powerful civilization.


Last edited by RonaldX on Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:06 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:09 pm 
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The history section reads too much like a history book, IMO. Where's the drama? The excitement? The civil conflicts, assassinated leaders, secret factions rising to take power, near annihilation of their homeworld? Also, specifying the number of years it took for a certain advancement to occur is usually pretty unnecessary, unless that amount of time illustrates an exceptional aspect of their race.

Quote:
Bonus to research: Scyliori society revolves around improving existing things and developing new ones.
This could be said about pretty much any race...

Quote:
Atmospherically Tolerant: Scyliori have developed the process for extracting ice from asteroids or meteors, and can collect and purify sufficient water from a star system to support a growing colony. Their colony ships are in essence starfaring aquariums which land on a planet. The Scyliori will then construct aboveground or underground domes and fill them with water which is temperature controlled. Because they basically bring their own atmosphere with them to a planet, it is irrelevant if the planet is barren, dead, tundra, or has a toxic or radiated atmosphere.

No. If they can do this, why can't everyone?

Quote:
Penalty to Diplomacy and Trade: Scyliori breathe through gills and have no lungs or vocal chords with which to create sound. They have no ears to hear. In water their neuromasts allow them a broad range of communications, but only with other similar creatures. They can communicate their emotions to another race by flashing their colors at them, but because other races typically cannot recreate the broad range of patterns and colors used in a typical Scylior conversation, only very simple, limited communication with other races is possible. Scyliori, in fact, don't even have a name for themselves, simply referring to one another as "us". Scyliori are typically only interested in trading for technology and will spurn economic offers, regardless of their benefit.
There are races with even stranger methods of communication. There's no need for this.

Quote:
Penalty to Economy: Scyliori have a functional but not exceptional economy. They will trade for things only that they absolutely require or that they desire for educational purposes, but do not traffic in luxury items at all.
There needs to be a good reason for this in the race description.

This could possibly make a good researcher race. I would recommend redoing the history section with the desired outcome in mind - that is, what bonuses and penalties do you want this race to have for the sake of gameplay, and how can the race have come to possess these traits in an interesting way? Were they approaching extinction and only the smartest, most innovative ones survived? Did some sort of cataclysm happen on their planet that was prevented by research, so now they have a science-worshipping culture? Maybe they have a diplomacy penalty because there were other sentient races on their planet who hunted them as prey, or perhaps they are environmentally tolerant because of an artificial adaptation they made to themselves over a long period of time (perhaps related to cataclysm avoided by research?).

Try not to focus too much on how the society parallels our own, and focus more on what's different. That's what makes a race description really interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:09 am 
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Thanks for the input. I'll do some thinking, make revisions in the next couple days and repost.

-Ty.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:45 pm 
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RonaldX wrote:
Thanks for the input. I'll do some thinking, make revisions in the next couple days and repost.

-Ty.


A few things that seem massive effects in your description
1. the unisexual nature...
2. the elder leader

These make me think of a tradition bound 'social insect' type race.

This gives good reason for the Diplomacy/Trade penalty... no good reason to relate to 'others'.
One could say that early on, perhaps even prehistorically, since multiple different clusters of Scylori were in competition with each other over foodand such....that only those that developed a "tradition of progress" ie improving or developing made it past early city-states. [There's your Research bonus]
As for Environment... since Hydrothermal vents are temporary, organisms on the Scylori Homeworld either had short lives (die when vent goes out, spores/eggs recolonize new vents) or were capable of surviving a wide range of physical conditions (so they could easily move from vent to vent). This helped the Scylori because they can erect chaper 'aquariums' because the climate controls don't have to be a rigidly maintained. (+-20 degrees K variation in temperature is fine)


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:22 pm 
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Thanks for the further input, Krikkitone. I've been lazy about updating this but I had a hockey game cancelled for tomorrow so I should have a few hours to revamp the description. I like the ideas for how the racial bonuses are explained. I'll likely flesh those out and modify the descriptions accordingly.

On the off chance one of you reads this between now and then, is there any particular length or level of detail you are looking for? As in, how much is too much? I can spend a ton of time going into finite detail on how historical elements changed the race's developmental path, but I don't want to write a novel if it's just going to be summarized and put into a 50-word race description on the selection screen. Should I just brush over a few major events or catastrophies and just let the reader assume that technological development was occuring as a natural process for an intelligent race? My focus here was to explain why they were motivated towards development at different stages, but perhaps I've strayed off and wrote it too.. verbatim? I can see that I mostly explained how technological development helped them, and not WHY they wanted to develop in the first place.. It's kind of subtle but I think it's at the heart of the problem. I'll go over it thoroughly.

Any thoughts on the physical race description? I hope I've described them well enough as I imagine them. I thought I could draw something up as a concept but my artistic skills are laughable at best.

I'll try to consolidate the whole thing down into a more manageable mouthful.. Trim the fat and add in elements that better explain the racial bonuses.

-Ty.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:18 pm 
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RonaldX wrote:
On the off chance one of you reads this between now and then, is there any particular length or level of detail you are looking for? As in, how much is too much?

As long as everything you put in is interesting, there's no significant limit at this point. Eventually, the length of race descriptions will be standardized, and some will be made longer and others shorter, but for now just focus on making it as interesting as possible - even if it ends up having to be trimmed down, the extra detail might end up assisting in designing ship and building models or creating music for the race.

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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:21 am 
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RonaldX wrote:
The surface of the world is completely covered in water except at the polar caps where large glaciers rise from the waves...
I can't say it's strictly necessary, but if you could come up with an explanation how a water-bound species could develop high technology, without fire, forges and all the related industrial stepping stones, i would be impressed. I don't really buy the "thermal vent" forge idea, but it's the best i've been able to come up with, and haven't seen a better idea elsewhere.


Physical Description-
Ok, unless i'm missing something this is a very large nautiloid with 2 alterations: the four antennae, and tentacles reduced in number to 2? Is that right?

I agree that cephalopods are fascinating, and are some of the best earthly models for a non-human sapient intelligence, but i think we could mix it a bit more so it's still biologically plausible, but isn't such a direct copy.

RonaldX wrote:
Scyliori are organic shelled Cephalopods...
Clarification, are you saying the shell is organic, or simply that the creature isn't a robot?


RonaldX wrote:
They possess advanced vision provided by two eyes, which is one of two important sensory inputs for the race. They have two separate "facial" orifices, the beaked mouth they use to consume food, and a hyponome for breathing and jet propulsion underwater. The hyponome is a muscular tube through which water is forced over the gills, and the ejected water can be angled through a muscular nozzle to provide the Scyliori with impressive bursts of speed in addition to normal locomotion.
What's "normal locomotion"?

Also here's a chance to give the nautiloid a little more alienness. Give it a pair of hyponomes, or more. Also, why 2 eyes? It needs at least 2 to communicate on both sides, but a few more eyes could strongly increase the "alien" factor.

RonaldX wrote:
...and allowed the Scyliori to avoid predators during their rise to planetary domination.
There's one missed chance to inject some drama into their backstory, a dread predator that they eventually overcame by tech or intelligence, or social organization.

RonaldX wrote:
The neuromast is so highly developed that the race has developed a type of "sign language" using their tentacles and antennae.
A sign language seems redundant for something that has such and advanced chromatophore language.

RonaldX wrote:
Rather than many small tentacles as in the Terran variety, Scyliori have two large, strong feeding tentacles which they use to grasp and hold tools...
Ok, it's good that you got away from the 8+ tentacles of a cephalopod, but going with 2 arms seems a bit anthropomorphic. How about 3 or 4 tentacles instead?

RonaldX wrote:
(Chromatophores)...may bioluminesce to create light (visitors to a Scyliori cluster note that they do not bother with lighting, simply generating their own light to locate stationary objects undetected by their neuromasts.
Earthly bioluminesce is fine for making glowing spots, but isn't much for illuminating surroundings. Are you proposing flashlight-strength bioluminesce? If not you would expect a technological being to illuminate it's surroundings if vision was one of it's two main senses. Unless it's vision is primarily for seeing the glowing chromatophores of it's fellows?

RonaldX wrote:
This color-shifting ability is also how Scyliori express their moods and communicate with other races.
It's amazing watching some squid or octopus do this.

RonaldX wrote:
Scyliori are unisexual and reproduce in an iteroparous style.
After all this biological vocabulary, i'm surprised that you use a imprecise word like "unisexual". What do you mean, parthenogenic, or hermaphroditic?

RonaldX wrote:
The lifespan of a Scylior is roughly 50 years.
Maybe shorten that lifespan... it could add some poignancy to the "incessantly curious" thing as well as make them feel more alien.

RonaldX wrote:
spawning pools and feeding pools.
I don't understand how a planet without land can have "pools".

RonaldX wrote:
A reason for leaving the home planet- The Scyliori are a race attempting to know everything there is to know. They are filled with insatiable curiosity in all aspects of their environment. They have nearly no moral compunction about what they do in the name of gathering knowledge and will happily destroy and dismember another species in order to learn what "makes them tick".
I can buy this.

RonaldX wrote:
Atmospherically Tolerant:... Because they basically bring their own atmosphere with them to a planet, it is irrelevant if the planet is barren, dead, tundra, or has a toxic or radiated atmosphere.
I don't buy this. You could just as easily extract oxygen from asteroids, and make little domes for air breathers. The point is that either way you are still only using a small part of the planet. There's no way that a bunch of aquariums is just as good as a naturally oceanic world for these guys.

RonaldX wrote:
Penalty to Diplomacy and Trade: Scyliori breathe through gills and have no lungs or vocal chords with which to create sound. They have no ears to hear. In water their neuromasts allow them a broad range of communications, but only with other similar creatures. They can communicate their emotions to another race by flashing their colors at them, but because other races typically cannot recreate the broad range of patterns and colors used in a typical Scylior conversation, only very simple, limited communication with other races is possible.
I can buy the basic concept, but the explanation doesn't convince me. We have a lot of diverse alien ideas, the mere fact that the Scyliori isn't an air-breathing, land-dwelling, verbally-communicating being isn't a unique obstacle. The same can be said of other aliens. I think you have to play up the mental side of things. Something like, "in spite of the Scyliori's intense desire to understand the thoughts and ideas of an alien being, they are not well-equipped to understand non-Scyliori thought processes. Combined with their idiosyncratic communication system, this causes Scyliori communication with other sapients to be error-prone, even with the aid of computers."

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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:26 pm 
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eleazar wrote:
RonaldX wrote:
The surface of the world is completely covered in water except at the polar caps where large glaciers rise from the waves...
I can't say it's strictly necessary, but if you could come up with an explanation how a water-bound species could develop high technology, without fire, forges and all the related industrial stepping stones, i would be impressed.
maybe some underwater volcano. and by the way - not only fire can provide high temperatures.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:24 pm 
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mZhura wrote:
eleazar wrote:
RonaldX wrote:
The surface of the world is completely covered in water except at the polar caps where large glaciers rise from the waves...
I can't say it's strictly necessary, but if you could come up with an explanation how a water-bound species could develop high technology, without fire, forges and all the related industrial stepping stones, i would be impressed.
maybe some underwater volcano. and by the way - not only fire can provide high temperatures.


Not to take this totally off-topic, but volcanos really haven't been a practical part of human industrialization. You can't really control or predict them, and a location that's safe one minute can quickly turn fatal. The vast majority of uses for "heat" require a specific range of temperatures. Sure if you throw enough industry and ingenuity at it, a sapient could probably get around those problems, but you would need an already established relatively advanced manufacturing base.

There's a tight relationship between industry and science. The next round of scientific discoveries are made possible by the new materials and construction techniques from that previous round of discoveries. If one of the vital links is missing the whole process stalls.

Water has the additional disadvantage that it transfers heat more readily than air, so being 3 meters away from a 1000 degree heat source tends to be a lot less comfortable when under water than in air.

It's possible that there would be some alternate technological path for fully aquatic creatures that no human has thought of simply because we haven't had the need. But this problem has defied the combined ingenuity of the serious sci-fi community. You pretty much find all fully aquatic species:
a) having no advanced material technology, or
b) being given that technology by another technological species.


This all should not be taken as an attack of aquatic species in FO. It's a level of realism far beyond what this game needs.

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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:18 am 
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I'm glad you guys all took the time to comment on something that I kind of whipped up one night on a burst of inspiration. The reason for the varied language is that I have no background in biology, so in my rushed research on aquatic races and their anatomy I found a number of very specific terms that exactly described what I wanted to say, a number of neat-sounding terms that I wanted to incorporate, and a number of things I had no words for so I just dipped into my existing vocabulary and came up with stuff that doesn't really make sense. ;)

I appreciate all the feedback, and I think I'm going to alter the race in a number of significant ways.

Firstly, I'm going to downplay heavily the whole neuromast thing. I did know about the lateral line system used by fish and always found it really intriguing, kind of like built-in sonar, but in this case it almost seems to clutter up the race with too many details. Since it has no effect on gameplay it isn't really important and can be used just as a side note if not entirely disregarded.

Secondly, a few slight changes to the physiology would make it seem much more alien, and while I like the concept of a giant nautiloid, giving it a bit of weirdness wouldn't hurt.

The society will operate the same way, caste-based society is something I considered core to the race.

I'll have to think of a better method for them to develop "fire". Perhaps a precursor legacy will need to be introduced in order to explain that feature, and they can develop on their own from there, given that head start by someone else. To be honest, I thought tools were a good start and assumed the ability to produce and contain heat would come naturally as a result, but you're right in that in an aquatic environment the heat problem is the bigger one and is the one that should be better explained.

There are a number of possibilities for motivations and historical events in the original text and in these changes, so those will be explored.

The other thing is that I'm going to drop atmospherically tolerant entirely from the racial bonus.. I was thinking of this when I was thinking of these changes last night before reading Eleazar's comments, and he hit on it perfectly.. Simply put the race is vastly better suited to a planet with oceans than one without. A few large aquariums might fit a few hundred thousand or million, but not the tens of millions or billions that a galactic scale requires.. Perhaps the problem is better approached by having an altered planetary maximum population.. They could happily colonize an ocean, swamp, terran, or gaian planet (maybe toxic?), perhaps with a bonus to growth or max population, while they would face steep penalties on barren, tundra, or radiated planets. Inferno planets might simply be impossible to colonize, perhaps until some sort of orbital platform technology is developed that would allow them to "control" the planet without actually landing colonists.

-Ty.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:40 am 
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Something also to keep in mind is that there's no guarantee that we will have all the same racial (dis)advantages that Moo did. Many of the ones eventually incorporated into FO will no doubt be similar, but most likely some dropped and new ones introduced.

So don't get too concerned exactly what the bonuses and maluses are.

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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:57 am 
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Just working on some changes now.. Going to take a quick break and get some food, but I had a fun thought about why they want to learn things.. It's one thing to say they are curious, but another thing to say that there is some sort of giant brain structure that can devour a living being and assimilate it's knowledge, but it's trapped at the bottom of the ocean and has grown tired of eating fish that can't tell it how to get up and walk away, so it's now decided to find the most advanced race it can and get them to acquire knowledge and "feed the brain" so that it can one day escape it's prison.

Depending on how the brain got there in the first place, it could also be the driving force in racial technological development. Maybe it only has a very weak telepathic ability and can't communicate with anything more than a hundred yards away, or maybe it has eaten a scylior and now has the same ability to bioluminesce that they have and communicates with them in that way when it wants to tell them something, or learn without eating the one it's talking to.

I'll have to poke through the other races and see if anyone else has already suggested something like this.

-Ty.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:32 am 
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Take two, with an entirely new backstory. Most of the historical stuff is cut out and simplified, and the race is jumpstarted into hyperspace by remnants from a precursor civ. Major changes are highlighted in red.

Scylior

Intro- Aquatic Hybrid Cephalopod, a Nautiloid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nautilus) with three large tentacles, blindly following a religion of knowledge gathering given to them by an immobile sentient brain-growth.

Racial Type: Biological, Aquatic (Standard G Forces Preferred)
Construction Materials: Transparent Mineral, Low-tech Metal
Behavioral Archetype: Expansionist Researcher

Homeworld- Iapetus is an Ocean planet with normal gravity. It has a dense solid nickel-iron core extending from the center of the planet to a radius of roughly 2200km, followed by a liquid nickel-iron outer core which continues a further 1600km. The mantle has a depth of 1200km, composed of mainly magmic polymorphic rocks with a large magnesium and iron content. Upon the mantle sit the tectonic plates and a thin crust of varied depth and composition, from 2 to about 70 kilometers deep. The surface of the world is completely covered in water except at the polar caps where large glaciers rise from the waves. The oceans of the world are delineated by underwater features and the boundaries typically follow tectonic lines. They vary in depth from under 1km to over 35km deep, triple the depth of the terran Marianas Trench. The atmosphere is oxygenated and earth-like but has a significantly higher proportion of Argon and could not support Human life.

As mentioned, the planet is divided geologically along the tectonic fault lines. Iapetus has a high level of tectonic activity and this generates a significant amount of hydrothermal venting along the ocean floor. Volcanic activity provides localized heat sources, as well as spewing microbes into the surrounding ocean which serve as a source of food for small aquatic life, which in turn serve as food for larger forms of life. Many of these hydrothermal vents also emit minerals and metallic content from the mantle, so control of specific vents have historically been points of contention.

Deep beneath the ocean, the remnant of a once-mighty hive brain, referred to as the Mind, has finally reached out and contacted the planet's dominant race, and has instilled in them a mission to journey the stars in hopes of returning to it's former might.



Physical Description- Scyliori are shelled cephalopods similar to a Nautilus. Their shell is coiled and when fully grown has a diameter of roughly 1 meter. They are intelligent and the driving force in their historical progression is a desire to learn new things, basically an insatiable curiosity. They possess advanced vision provided by four eyes, two located on each side of the head so that the being has a 270 degree range of vision, and is capable of proper depth perception at all points. They have two separate "facial" orifices; a sharp beak (of the same material as the shell) which they use to consume food and eject waste, and a hyponome for breathing and jet propulsion underwater. The hyponome is a muscular tube through which water is forced over the gills, and the ejected water can be angled through a muscular nozzle to move the Scyliori underwater. Out of water or when moving around on the ocean floor, they may use their tentacles to assist in motion. Note that Scylior do not have lungs, and can only survive out of water for very short periods.

The Scyliori also have four antennae containing millions of neuromasts which effect a "lateral line" phenomena, allowing the Scyliori to detect changes in water pressure and also electrical fields. Objects in motion generate a wave of pressure which these receptors then detect and analyze. From the information gathered a Scylior can determine the size, speed, location, and direction of any moving object within a large radius.

Rather than many small tentacles as in the Terran variety, Scyliori have three large, strong feeding tentacles which they use to grasp and hold tools, or food while it is broken up by the beak and ingested. These tentacles have fixed volume, but can be reduced in diameter to increase their length. This is caused by longitudal and radial muscles in the tentacles that expand and contract very rapidly, allowing a Scylior to quickly grab objects up to 3 meters away. At rest, the tentacles are roughly 1 meter long on a fully grown Scylior. They are affixed below the beak and eyes, equally spread around the hyponome.

The skin of a Scylior has colored pigments called chromatophores which they use for multiple purposes. They may bioluminesce to create light (visitors to a Scyliori cluster note that they do not typically bother with lighting, simply generating their own light to locate stationary objects undetected by their neuromasts). Their shell and beak will not bioluminesce, but their tentacles and exposed facial skin are capable of emitting light to approximately 10cd, or roughly 10 times the intensity of a terran wax candle.

The Chromatophores provide the race with their main form of communication. When two Scyliori wish to communicate with each other, they rapidly change the coloring and patterning of their skin. They are capable of communicating with more than one Scylior at a time as well. For example, a Scylior could converse with a Scylior on it's right by changing the patterning on it's right side, and another on it's left by changing the patterning on it's left side. This presents no challenge to an adult Scylior. This color-shifting ability is also how Scyliori express their moods and communicate with other races. Although they are capable of producing light at fairly high intensity, typically this luminescence is kept very low, just enough for it's pattern conversations to be understood by those nearby; excessive brightness would be the terran equivalent of shouting.

Scyliori are without gender and reproduce in an iteroparous style. All adults form a clutch of 2-4 eggs which they lay annually in a communal spawning bed. The lifespan of a Scylior is roughly 30 years. They never stop growing until death, hatching with a shell diameter of only 5cm and experiencing roughly 10 percent growth each year. In the last 6 years of their lives their physical strength begins to fade but their brain growth continues, so they are technically smartest right before they die. For this reason elders are valued.


Society- Scyliori are highly social. Originally they followed a simple elder system with the largest (and therefore oldest) as the leader. As the civilization grew in size and scope an age-based caste system was developed. Since all Scyliori of a certain age are analogous in size (including brain size), they are deemed to have analogous capabilities and are moved from job to job as they age. Younger Scyliori are smaller but extremely dextrous and are considered excellent for agility-demanding tasks or simple tasks such as minding the spawning and feeding beds. At the age of 15 these Scyliori are considered strong enough for more laborious tasks and are moved to construction, mining, military, and other strength intensive tasks. At the age of 24 they are considered elders and are exempt from all manual tasks. Scyliori of this age are engineers, scientists, military commanders, and politicians. Leaders are chosen from amongst the Scyliori who are 26 years old by an election of elders. This Scylior will then rule until it's death.

The Scylior treat the Mind as though it were a benevolent god. The Mind gave them knowledge and allowed them to become rulers of their world. They came to love learning things and sharing knowledge with the Mind, proud that they could serve their benefactor. They now have a warm relationship, with the Scylior elders continually informing the Mind of every detail they can discover in gratitude for their salvation as a young race.



History- Milennia ago, on a research expedition to Iapetus, the precursors discovered the denizens of the world under the total control of a massive hive mind. The precursors found that the large brain growth had only rudimentary support systems, but tremendous telepathic powers, and terrifying aggressiveness. The telepathic powers of the Mind were strong, but limited in range to the planet itself. Until the precursors arrived it had only primitive creatures of limited intellect from which to assimilate knowledge. When the precursors arrived it immediately reached out and began copying the knowledge they posessed. From the research scientists and their ship crews the Mind quickly assimilated many concepts of high technology, from simple mathematics to starflight. The Mind, however, had no body to utilize this knowledge, and no subservient beings evolved enough to make use of it. The Mind was defenseless as the researchers cut away and collected the large majority of the Mind and it's memories, taking it away for study and either presuming that the rest would not survive the loss, or not caring if it did. The Mind was packed up, and a cargo hold full of research tools, surveying mechanisms and crystal samples was dumped in the ocean to make room for it. The presursor scientists left the star system, absconding with their prize.

The remnant of the Mind, however, did survive, though greviously weakened and with many of it's memories lost. It had survived, but it now lusted to recover the memories that had been taken from it. The Mind, however, was immobile, and for the time being, had no nearby intelligent beings to act as it's hands. Enter the Scyliori.

Scyliori society began in simple clusters with the largest (and therefore oldest) member as the recognised leader. In their earliest recollections, they gathered around hydrothermal vents to prey on the smaller marine life these vents sustained. Initially the families of Scyliori would stay around each other simply for protection against larger predators, but each individual essentially spent all their time individually foraging for food or sleeping. They would lurk in fronds of ropy marine fauna to snatch and devour smaller creatures. Eventually they adopted the practise of harvesting the seaweed and crafting it into netting for the more efficient collection of food. Having a more abundant food source was the beginning of the caste system, as only a few Scylior were now needed to collect enough food for the cluster, and the rest could move on to other pursuits. Elder Scyliori would spend time determining how to improve the efficiency of regular activities, leading to the development of simple coral tools and weapons.

At this point in their history, the planet's ocean was dominated by primordial, colossal super-predators. These giants swam in the ocean devouring everything in their path, and fighting cataclysmic battles between each other for control of feeding grounds. Their primitive brains held only hunger, and operated entirely on instinct. The Scyliori were defenseless against these creatures and lived in constant fear of them. They spent any time they had not gathering food hiding in deep trenches in the ocean floor. It was one family cluster of Scyliori that first got close enough for the Mind to discover and contact it. The Mind had finally found a race with the intelligence necessary to be shaped into tools, although it no longer had the power to control them directly. The Mind had lost many of it's memories, but it understood the artifacts left lying around it, and it kept bits and pieces of knowledge from physics to computers to fission. The Scyliori therefore were given a headstart on their development by the Mind, and by tinkering with the advanced tools left behind by the precursors, their inquisitive nature allowed them to fill some of the gaps in the Mind's knowledge. By using these tools, they were able to experiment with air-filled enclosures more suited to construction and development of the various tools and technologies passed onto them by the Mind. Over time they had developed a technology-centric society, and were eventually able to hunt and destroy the once-dominant super-predators through use of tactics and more advanced sciences. With the seas now safe, the civilization flourished. Under the persistant guidance of the Mind, they continued to advance until their recent first successful starflight, and are now poised to scour the galaxy for knowledge to send back home for presentation to the Mind.


A reason for leaving the home planet- The Scyliori have been direted by the Mind to leave the planet and recover the rest of the Mind and it's memories, or failing that, to re-acquire the knowledge lost to it. They have nearly no moral compunction about what they do in the name of gathering knowledge and will happily destroy and dismember another species in order to learn what "makes them tick". They seek knowledge and are engaged in a galactic hunt for ruins or surviving members of other advanced races to learn from, or clues to the whereabouts of any remaining segments of the Mind.

General Ship and Building Design- Scyliori vessels are like interstellar aquariums, with multiple compartments filled with water. Every traversible inch of a ship is flooded. Their mastery of glassmaking and mineral processing in their early stages gave them an appreciation for transparent construction materials, making the ships even more "fishbowl-esque". (The first image on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2102 was the driving inspiration behind this whole race idea.)


Effects-
Note that the Mind has no direct influence over the Scyliori. When it was first harvested by the precursors it lost the vast majority of it's telepathic capabilities and can no longer directly control another being, even at close range. It may communicate with another being and may convince it to do something, but it has no power to command. Scylior love the Mind, and wish to obtain information to present to it, but do so in their own way and of their own volition.

Bonus to research: Scyliori society revolves around obtaining knowledge and the simple fact that they can learn from doing something is enough justification to do it, almost regardless of the consequences to others. Scyliori will shy from preforming actions that directly threaten their own existence, but anything else is fair game. Their research methods would be considered brutal by members of other races and many typical methods of analysis used by the Scyliori would be avoided by another race as unnecessarily cruel. They are insatiably curious, and have a natural grasp of engineering which allows them to quickly determine how a given object functions.

Aquatic: Scyliori are an aquatic race and cannot breathe air. Any colonization of a planet without surface oceans (Tundra, Barren, Toxic, Radiated) requires the Scyliori to create domed Aquariums to live in, which severely limits maximum population on planets of those types. Inferno planets cannot be colonized by Scyliori at all. On the other hand, planets with surface oceans provide a gigantic habitable space for Scylior to live in, as they are fairly tolerant of temperatures and can survive in equatorial or polar waters, giving them a bonus to maximum population on Terran, Swamp, Gaian or Ocean planets.

Penalty to diplomacy/trade: Scyliori view other races not so much as sentient beings, but as test subjects who simply aren't in a cage yet. They are willing to trade or form alliances, but do so more out of curiosity as to how the other race will react than out of a desire for economic benefit. They are therefore unskilled at barter and ambivalent about forming alliances unless directly threatened by a more powerful civilization.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:05 pm 
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First post updated to new format specified by viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4669.

-Ty.


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 Post subject: Re: Scylior
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:51 pm 
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Okay I made a quick-read concept pic, similar in fashion to what I was doing in the Chato thread. This is what actually stuck in me reading the ultra-long description.

Image

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