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Traveller Chat #1: Aliens

The following transcript is edited to remove irrelevant material (such as actions, joins, and parts) and to correct spelling.

<FreeTrav> Good evening, Travellers of all types, and welcome to Topical Talk #1: Aliens

<FreeTrav> Our goal here tonight is to explore the possibilities of non-Traveller game aliens and non-game literature aliens being 'ported' into Traveller - what do we feel is plausible, what not, and why.

<FreeTrav> Format will be largely "open mike", free-form discussion.

<FreeTrav> Some of you have already indicated that you've done some work and brought some alien friends with you; would anyone like to be the first to step up and outline your views?

<Grayman32> Well do you have example for us to go by?

<FreeTrav> Not really - I was a bit busier than I expected this week, and couldn't do the write-up I'd planned.

<jaleo> good question. what aliens would you like to introduce into Traveller?

<FreeTrav> So, I guess we'll start with some general related questions, and let it develop into specifics.

<Grayman32> I like that idea

<FreeTrav> To me, the first question should be "How do we decide whether something 'fits' Traveller?"

<FreeTrav> This is naturally going to have strong undertones of IMTU, but I still believe that there's going to be some common elements. Comments?

<jaleo> IMTU?

<FreeTrav> Sorry. "In My Traveller Universe". Essentially an indicator that

<jaleo> gotcha

<FreeTrav> not everyone views things exactly the same.

<AllenS> I think Traveller needs more aliens that aren't bipedal types....

<AllenS> something really ALIEN

<shadowcat> ok, lets look at a race that might not work as a player character

<AllenS> more like the K'Kree or Hivers

<shadowcat> but as an NPC/Companion

<FreeTrav> OK, what do you have in mind, SC?

<shadowcat> I borrowed Nimitz from a universe next door

<shadowcat> with Honor's permission of course

<FreeTrav> For those of us not familiar with the Honor Harrington series - and I regret that I'm one such - can we have a description?

<shadowcat> Nimitz is a fine example of the Sphinxian Tree Cat

<shadowcat> 6 legged arboreal feline

<shadowcat> the front 2 legs end in what are best described as true hands

<shadowcat> and rather nasty claws

<shadowcat> they're estimated to have the intelligence of a 12 year old child

<shadowcat> but that's an estimate

<FreeTrav> Thus answering the question I was about to ask.

<shadowcat> they can communicate telepathically with their bonded human and themselves

<shadowcat> and have taken to a bastardized version of ASL

<jaleo> how have you used them in your game?

<shadowcat> I haven't yet, this is an ongoing project

<shadowcat> they can empathically sense nearby emotions also

<FreeTrav> Presumably, their homeworld is generally Terrestrial?

<jaleo> well, I can see how they'd only make for npc

<shadowcat> terrestrial, but with a higher gravity

<shadowcat> at 1.3g

<FreeTrav> Actually, I could see them as PCs, under some circumstances.

<shadowcat> why couldn't they be a PC?

<shadowcat> there about the size of a large house cat

<jaleo> from what I recall, they are more of a companion type creature.

<FreeTrav> In fact, I might be inclined to use them as PCs if I wanted to introduce, say, a 12-year-old to RPGs!

<shadowcat> FT: seen an experiment run with a Fuzzy pc

<shadowcat> and a young player

<FreeTrav> That's another useful idea in that vein. I expect it worked reasonably well?

<shadowcat> yes

<FreeTrav> Next question: Why do you feel that the STC has the Traveller feel?

<shadowcat> not so much a Traveller feel, as an alien feel that's always been missing from Traveller

<shadowcat> and something a lot different

<shadowcat> Traveller has always had too many bipedal aliens

<FreeTrav> I think I'm going to ask you to elucidate on that last statement; also, it seems to mesh with what AllenS said earlier.

<FreeTrav> So, AllenS, do feel free to chime in.

<shadowcat> the Traveller aliens have just never quite seemed truly alien

<PieL> Are they feline only in character?

<AllenS> The problem with a lot of sfrpg aliens is that are based on terrestrial animals, or are basically humanoid. I would like to see aliens that are kind of different.

<shadowcat> really alien aliens

<AllenS> the problem is of course, that it's hard to create things like that because they aren't part of our own experiences

<shadowcat> lets look at an example from another SFRPG

<Grayman32> I agree Allen but what is Alien usually it is indescribable

<FreeTrav> I can understand that, but there are perhaps sound reasons for doing it that way - remember that we, the people playing, are human, and thus only have the human viewpoint. In such a situation, can any alien be truly 'other' than a 'human in a rubber suit'?

<AllenS> FreeTrav: good point.

<PieL> Especially with the less-traveled player

<shadowcat> Battlelords of the 23rd Century has an insectoid race called the Arachnids

<AllenS> I liked the sentient natural computer chips of Cymbeline...that was a good idea

<FreeTrav> But in the extant material, even they seemed to exhibit human - or at least humanesque - thought patterns.

<PieL> Sorry, is this an aliens swap, or should we try to comment on aliens as they are described?

<FreeTrav> That can be explained away by saying 'Well, that's the data they were fed', but still...

<FreeTrav> PieL: "Yes". Basically, the topic is 'Aliens in Traveller', in terms of what they are, and why, and why they're good candidates for Traveller. That naturally leads to other related questions.

<AllenS> I'm sorry if I got off topic. I didn't expect to be here so didn't prepare anything

<FreeTrav> Specific aliens are good for examples, but not necessary for discussion.

<FreeTrav> Not at all, AllenS - they're good questions, and germane.

<Vanguard> Shrug...I agree...but then again, you have to think of it that way...it's really hard, as a human...to "think alien".

<Grayman32> I think one to develop an alien then would be to think of an environment humans don't live in

<Vanguard> I always liked the races in "Star Frontiers" actually...

<FreeTrav> Grayman32: Yes. But you still have the problem of thinking about how to deal with that environment in human terms - because you're human.

<Grayman32> probably but you move one step away

<Vanguard> David Webber came up with a race that's heavy world and looked like a cross between a spider and a starfish...always thought that was a good idea.

<PieL> Ok... I just want to comment on the "feline" aliens in general, and a bit on the Sphinxian if I may.

<FreeTrav> Go ahead, PieL.

<PieL> Ok, first off, Traveller alien descriptions are generally only based on physiology and psychology, with very little biology, which is normal considering we have little to go on.

<PieL> Based on that, I think it's a little sad that aliens are described as "felines" and it is left at that. If you look at Terran felines, they do have a lot of variety,

<PieL> but there are some things that are typically felinoid, imho. I'm not a biologist though, but I hope this leads to interesting comments.

<FreeTrav> Mmmm... I think I see what you're getting at.

<Grayman32> I think what you noticed is the difference between species, families, and the other classifications

<PieL> Anyway, what the important things about cats are, I think: 1) Their senses 2) Their spine 3) Their diet and society

<PieL> I know these are all related, of course

<FreeTrav> And from a Traveller point of view - or from almost any game or fiction point of view - the focus is going to be on the social development.

<PieL> Anyway, almost all cats rely on smell and pheromones - it's their most important tool. I would personally use that for "bonding" instead of telepathy. It can have a much richer impact on the game.

<AllenS> actually according to a show I saw, all varieties of the common housecat are in fact the same species as the African Hunting Cat

<FreeTrav> PieL: That makes them less alien, instead of more. Also, remember that we use characterizations like 'felinoid' as a shorthand for most of the 'gross' physical and social characteristics.

<PieL> A smart cat could possibly understand the emotional state of a human simply by sense of smell, and spend a lot of time in trees sifting the winds for messages... It's less straightforward than psi, but leads to a deeper background.

<PieL> I don't know... Seeing the world by smells seems more alien to me than telepathy - I have a cell phone.

<FreeTrav> It's reasonable to assume that if they look cat-ish, they evolved many of the same mechanisms to fit into a similar niche, but it's not necessarily so.

<PieL> Yes, actually I'm just trying to say that if humans label an alien as a feline, the alien has to fit these characteristics. IF they don't, then it's a more alien alien.

<Grayman32> So we need more descriptors

<PieL> But to me these have to be explained correctly for me not to think of it as "just another Aslan"

<FreeTrav> Also, don't assume that the telepathy was specifically developed as part of their evolution - it might just have been an accident that a given race is telepathic with humans.

<FreeTrav> PieL: Yes, on that I will agree. Certainly, the generic descriptions aren't enough to differentiate between similar species.

<PieL> True, but then since all cats are telepathic anyways, it makes them less alien in my book

<FreeTrav> Much of what can be said about the Aslan, for example, could also apply to the Kzinti.

<FreeTrav> It becomes a matter of interpretation and context.

<PieL> Ok, just a few words on the spine: it's really what makes a cat a cat. Cat spines are extremely supple, it's why they have their gait, why they can fall from great heights and run at great speeds - anything that messes with the spine makes the alien a non-cat.

<PieL> Six arms would make the spine more rigid, imho, and so push the alien out of the feline box.

<FreeTrav> Non-cat, certainly - but non-felinoid? Remember, these designations are as much social commentary as physical.

<FreeTrav> As an example, I'd classify the Dilbians and Hemnoids of Gordon Dickson's Dilbia stories as human.

<PieL> Alright, I think "feline" society is a field too vast to be explored here though.

<Grayman32> So we can have a Feline animal that loves to be held and poops outside

<PieL> Maybe we should try to answer the question of how "aliens" will alien mind be... In Traveller, they aren't very alien.

<FreeTrav> And what we have to do is distinguish between this as a pet and this as an intelligent alien.

<PieL> imtu, all intelligences have a common core.

<FreeTrav> That's sort of the central question tonight. What makes an alien suitable as a Traveller Alien?

<Grayman32> One of the reasons this might be true Cannon wise is that grandfather and young ones killed off all non uplifted life

<FreeTrav> Whoa! I'm not sure I can get that from any of the extant material.

<FreeTrav> Certainly, there are references for intelligences that aren't clearly uplifted.

<Grayman32> intelligent life

<FreeTrav> In fact, most of the minor non-humans are not clearly uplifted.

<FreeTrav> And there's no evidence that the Hivers and the K'Kree - or even the Aslan - were uplifts.

<Grayman32> The probably is that they don't deal with Grandfather, K'Kree don't have the myth so he only worked in a limited space, didn't exist, or killed off all those other races

<FreeTrav> All we do know is that Yaskoydray messed with humans and with the canines/lupines that became the Vargr

<PieL> (oh yeah, and I don't see how 6 arms would be a survival advantage, so I'd need to know why they have them :)

<FreeTrav> PieL: Ask an insect.

<PieL> It could be a social thing.

<Grayman32> 6 arms would give you speed plus manipulation capabilities

<FreeTrav> Now, a more interesting question concerning physical plan - but off-topic for tonight - might be 'is symmetry necessary'?

<Grayman32> Just picture a cheetah armed with a hunting rifle chasing down prey

<jaleo> maybe they have six limbs to compensate for the higher G they come from

<Grayman32> or lower

<shadowcat> I would guess on the extra manipulation, and there not the only species on Sphinx with 6 limbs

<FreeTrav> There are species on earth with from 2 to 10 to more legs. All in the same gravity.

<PieL> But not the same scale

<Grayman32> or pressure

<FreeTrav> 2 and 4 are pretty widely overlapping.

<FreeTrav> six and more are overlapping

<Grayman32> What about plants as intelligent life?

<FreeTrav> But getting back to the central question: What makes an alien suitable for Traveller, specifically?

<PieL> I could see how they might use the 2 extra legs if they have no prehensile tail (I assume they are a tree species)

<Grayman32> Traveller Aliens are mostly intelligent creatures that a pc is likely to talk to before shooting it

<Pronto> FreeTrav: Role Playability.

<shadowcat> they do have a prehensile tail

<FreeTrav> Really? What about the Ael Yael?

<Grayman32> Ael Yael?

<Grayman32> Remember I don't have my books and two that's only one out of a dozen or so

<PieL> FT maybe it's a good time to define the sciences we would use to describe an alien, so we can see how Traveller aliens fit in them. I've already mentioned the standard descriptions are often about morphology.

<FreeTrav> Don't have the reference handy. One of the old JTAS. Pseudoavian species.

<FreeTrav> Except that the species I was actually thinking of was the Jgd-Il-Jagd, which are explicitly called out as Not Suitable As PCs.

<Grayman32> PieL that is true

<PieL> (My definition of a Traveller alien is "anything that does not behave like an American" :)

<FreeTrav> There's probably more than a little bit of truth to that.

<FreeTrav> Getting back to your comment about 'anything that doesn't act like an American', PieL, why do you pick that criterion?

<PieL> Well in a way it was the description of the Solomani as "John Wayne in space".

<shadowcat> but the Solomani aren't aliens

<PieL> It's easy to match most "alien" races to non north-American, human societies.

<FreeTrav> No, and neither are the Zhodani.

<PieL> I myself see the Vilani as being Chinese, the Aslan as Japanese/samurai, etc.

<PieL> That's the way most players end up playing them, in most cases.

<FreeTrav> PieL: Yes, it is - but one of my criteria is that their social order make sense and hang together. That sort of means that many elements of a given society are going to 'stay together' when transplanted.

<shadowcat> hell, look at the line of emperors

<FreeTrav> Which leads right back to the 'rubber suit' "problem".

<shadowcat> ancient Greece and Rome for the most part

<Grayman32> Is there something wrong with. Again the games had to be developed from what we know. If we knew real aliens then the aliens would be like them. The developers only had a finite knowledge base

<shadowcat> and Gilbert and Sullivan

<PieL> Ok, let's take another tack. imtu, *reason* and *logic* are the same for all species. Society and behavior is what makes an alien.

<PieL> But they are only alien if they do things that a human would NEVER do, even if put in the same situation.

<FreeTrav> Before you elucidate on that, outline what you mean by 'reason' and 'logic', please.

<PieL> 1+1 = 2. If A = B and B = C, A = C. I know it's a broad assumption, but I'm hoping these things are constant across the universe. :)

<TimL> I'd like to see Vinge's "Tines" in Traveller.

<TimL> Rather different from most humans, that's for sure.

<FreeTrav> Ah. So you're referring to mathematical logic and thought processes grounded in it.

<PieL> Oh yeah, and the perception of time and cause & effect would be similar to ours.

<TimL> They would certainly meet PieL's criterion "a human would NEVER do" in many situations.

<Grayman32> One of the things that make animals different from each other is their sense of time and space

<Grayman32> Birds see time much faster then most animals

<shadowcat> TimL: I suggested Sphinxian Treecats and was going to suggest the Phraints from old Arduin

<TimL> Hey, I know humans who don't have the same perception of time and cause-and-effect.

<FreeTrav> TimL: But would they? I had no trouble understanding their motivations or reactions within the context of the story. Certainly, their physical form had an effect on their actions, but were they really fundamentally different from human? The 'rubber suit problem' again. (I'll abbreviate that as RSP - it'll be common enough.)

<TimL> Their perception of self was quite different.

<TimL> I'd say that's pretty fundamental

<FreeTrav> Was it? Can you explain how?

<shadowcat> think of a blind or deaf person

<PieL> not alien

<shadowcat> there going to have a different perception of space at least

<PieL> But does that change their behavior?

<FreeTrav> Will they? What is your perception of space?

<TimL> FreeTrav: I can't quite explain exactly, just that while I was reading the book, there were a few bits where I had to stretch my mind to try to identify with the Tine characters.

<TimL> Maybe other people would have no problem.

<shadowcat> yes it would change their behavior

<PieL> Ok let's see... Let's compare a blind human to a blind cat.

<shadowcat> they have to adapt

<PieL> They both still behave as their own species, only they have to try harder.

<PieL> A blind cat is still playful, and a blind human will still need to express himself and socialize and make awful puns.

<PieL> eeehhh I Lost track of my point

<PieL> but anyways, they remain in their own species. :)

<Grayman32> I have been working on an intelligent species that have recently evolved on a human world. Being pet material they have taken on the philosophy of the "dog's life"

<TimL> I guess we're only talking about sentient alien species here in the "Rubber Suit Problem"?

<FreeTrav> Yes.

<TimL> To me, sentient means "enough like humans that we can recognize their intelligence"

<Grayman32> hey doesn't CT have random animal charts. We could start with those to get physical ideas and work from there

<FreeTrav> That might be possible - but is intelligence - or rather, sapience - suitably instilled in _any_ package?

<TimL> Good question.

<Grayman32> Why cant it be

<TimL> If nuclear plasma interactions in the core of the sun are complex enough, could they be said to be sentient?

<TimL> Even in principle?

<Grayman32> intelligence is an adaptation to lack of physical ability.

<PieL> If they have an established behavior that matches an intelligent process.

<TimL> So what is an intelligent process?

<FreeTrav> How could we tell?

<TimL> Indeed -- how could we tell?

<FreeTrav> RSP

<PieL> Well, if we agree that intelligence is more than pure reasoning, then we have to assume that

<PieL> an intelligence has goals that we can understand.

<PieL> The first one would be the continuation of intelligence.

<PieL> (unless it's a truly alien alien)

<Grayman32> So we agree that intelligence is probably more a measure of tool use, or communication. One of these has to be there

<PieL> Life & intelligence, once created, tries to keep existing, basically.

<PieL> imho, basic intelligence is not unlike what we call a survival instinct.

<FreeTrav> Grayman32: Are you going in the direction of Talk-and-build-a-fire?

<FreeTrav> But all animals have a survival instinct, PieL.

<Grayman32> talk and or build a fire. We need to set limits on the conversation or we are all over the place

<shadowcat> ok, what limits are we setting

<PieL> But the intelligence of animals differs from ours only in degrees... Most animals can't plan, but if they could, they would be a "level 2" intelligence, that tries to improve its lot.

<TimL> For a start, we should restrict to only beings that can interact meaningfully in a game.

<TimL> An alien with a 2-millenium thought cycle is interesting, but not much use.

<TimL> Likewise ones that live and die in a microsecond.

<FreeTrav> OK, that's fair.

<TimL> Or live 3 billion light-years away.

<PieL> But doesn't that mean that they have basically "human" intelligence?

<Grayman32> So the Aliens are going to be lesser Aliens of the Imperium?

<TimL> I think there will always be an element of RSP, since the aliens have to be described and played by humans.

<PieL> Bringing us back to the rsp?

<FreeTrav> Yes.

<FreeTrav> Which is actually why I don't think the RSP is really a P. I think it's inevitable.

<Grayman32> so we have the RSS

<Grayman32> Rubber Suit Situation

<TimL> S = Situation?

<PieL> rubber suit reality

<FreeTrav> And yet the first "complaint" about most aliens is that "they're humans in rubber suits".

<Grayman32> I think the RSS occurs because we either try to explain creatures in human terms to much. Or on the opposite end they are described as so non human that people don't accept it so move it back to human

<TimL> Grayman32: Yeah, that sounds about right.

<TimL> For one game, I thought -- as in *really* thought -- what a society of Elves would be like.

<TimL> It made my head hurt.

<TimL> (and I do relativistic orbital dynamics for fun)

<Grayman32> So we aliens that are playable need to have some bit of human in them so we can be grounded in them. But we can make them different in a lot of ways if we keep a bit of human in them

<FreeTrav> Grayman32: I think that's a fair assessment.

<FreeTrav> That leads to the next question: How much human do we need to keep?

<shadowcat> that would depend on how playable you want them to be

<Grayman32> So we can have physically different and human society to Human society and physically different

<FreeTrav> You meant physically human socially alien to physically alien socially human, right?

<PieL> Would a human in a robot body still be human?

<Grayman32> yep

<TimL> I think so.

<PieL> I vote for physically different with human society (as a basis).

<TimL> Pity the Traveller universe is so technologically backward.

<FreeTrav> I would say so - but remember, I said that the (ursinoid) Dilbians were 'human'.

<TimL> Egan's "Diaspora" societies would be fun.

<TimL> Probably near-impossible to play though.

<FreeTrav> Question: How different does a society have to be before we can say that it's alien (i.e., not human)?

<PieL> But even if the behavior is non-human, they still have to make sense from a physical and reason point of view.

<TimL> FreeTrav: In practice, not that much different. Throughout history, even human societies have been considered non-human.

<FreeTrav> PieL: I would agree on general principles, but do you have any specific examples in mind?

<TimL> In a game, they have to be pretty different

<TimL> Otherwise they converge onto something human.

<TimL> PieL: I'm not so sure about the "reason" requirement. So long as it works for them, that's enough. It doesn't have to make sense for us.

<PieL> The only thing that comes to my mind is downloaded humans. Physically extremely different, but at the core they are human. Except their outlook is very alien.

<FreeTrav> TimL: I think they will so converge anyway - RSP, again.

<TimL> (Again, apart from the human GM and players factor)

<TimL> FreeTrav: Yes, you're very likely right.

<PieL> TimL it has to make sense to the universe. You can't have purely genocidal aliens - they would wipe themselves out. But they could be genocidal if it has some evolutionary purpose.

<TimL> PieL: That's what I'd call a physical reason.

<PieL> (not that evolution HAS purpose, but it still has to make sense :)

<FreeTrav> PieL: So you see the K'Kree as implausible as written?

<PieL> Well then it could be an alien species with a human core and only 1 different behavior. But based on that you can develop the whole species.

<FreeTrav> Certainly - and in fact, that's largely what was done with the Zhodani.

<FreeTrav> Or so it appears to me.

<TimL> Yes, even 1 different behavior can have follow-on ripples into the rest of their society.

<PieL> FreeTrav I don't have the K'Kree. I have a severe handicap.

<TimL> I'm not so sure I see the Zhodani as really "alien". More like something that could equally as well have happened to any other race in Traveller, if they'd just taken a different path.

<TimL> Or if the Zhodani hadn't minded competition, and hadn't pushed them off it

<FreeTrav> Yes, you could take that view.

<shadowcat> I agree with Tim on the Zhodani

<PieL> But they could have been aliener.

<FreeTrav> So you don't want to take biological humans as aliens?

<TimL> FreeTrav: I don't know. I'm torn.

<PieL> Say if for example the "behavior quirk" of the Zhodani was to check on others Zhodani to see if they're ok. Like a memetic error-correcting code.

<TimL> If they were around now, sure I'd think of them as aliens.

<FreeTrav> OK, let's approach the question from another angle - and yes, I've given my answer to this before; I'd want to hear yours.

<TimL> But since every one of the societies in Traveller is so far removed from ours, I'd have to call them all aliens.

<TimL> Even if the Solomani are "us" in some sense.

<TimL> Or none of them.

<FreeTrav> But are they really that alien? Remember the standard comment about "Yanks in space".

<TimL> I've never thought of any of them as "Yanks in space"

<FreeTrav> That brings up a good point: How physically different can a species be and still have what we would recognize as a 'human' society?

<PieL> totally different.

<BigRat> Sword Worlders would be "Yanks in space"...almost literally

<TimL> Drastically different, I think. To me the question is "how different can a computer be and still run Windows programs".

<FreeTrav> ... before such a juxtaposition becomes 'implausible'?

<PieL> virtual humans would be humans.

<TimL> A Turing machine can run Windows...

<BigRat> i think societies 'merge' to a great degree if interbreeding is possible AND they're isolated

<FreeTrav> ... and MacOS - at the same time. Yes.

<shadowcat> your assuming that running Windows is an asset

<BigRat> but even the first ability does allow some merging

<PieL> (I was getting to the point that all intelligences are Von Neumann machines earlier, but you stopped me before that)

<TimL> Basically the society is a "software" thing. The biology is "hardware".

<Grayman32> Tim that's one way to look at it.

<TimL> The only squirrelly thing is evolutionary pressures weeding out poor combinations.

<FreeTrav> Yes. And at what point does running a particular software set on a particular hardware platform become implausible?

<Grayman32> when you are sued by the government

<TimL> FreeTrav: About where the boss says "I need a result by Tuesday"

<FreeTrav> Heh. Seriously, though.

<PieL> Only when the software purposefully tries to destroy the hardware, going against the first principle.

<Grayman32> When the hardware is radically upgraded

<PieL> I can imagine a starship wanting to give me a hug. I can imagine it would cause both of us great pain. :)

<BigRat> but in this case the 'hardware' gradually modifies the 'software', doesn't it?

<TimL> Although rather flippant, my answer really is a bit more serious than it looks. A society that is a poor match for biology will be out-competed by ones that are.

<FreeTrav> Does it make sense for a human-sized mammalian race to have an insect-hive social organization? Does it make sense for ursinoids to have a human society? Is it plausible for a society to consider its immature offspring to be vermin, and accepting them as 'people' when they mature?

<BigRat> the computer metaphor only goes so far

<BigRat> ursinoids?

<FreeTrav> TimL: I think we're groping at the same idea.

<PieL> Ok so in other words, both hardware and software is a matter of economy.

<Grayman32> Well for the eating of our young, we know that Romans at least banished unwanted children

<FreeTrav> PieL: No. The package is a matter of economy.

<TimL> There have been human societies that would routinely practice what we think of as gross child-abuse.

<BigRat> and society is a matter of economy, especially in hives, and otherwise genetically modified societies: they have 1 big 'family'

<shadowcat> yep, and that's even in recent times

<TimL> However, human children are expensive (biologically) to produce, compared to most species.

<shadowcat> hell, some religious cults here in the US right now

<BigRat> sc: I agree

<Grayman32> Right so the young question is a positive you can be intelligent and still be brutal

<PieL> Ah yes, but even if something doesn't work out in the end, doesn't mean you can't encounter it on its way to destruction.

<BigRat> 'yes'

<FreeTrav> I was thinking of the Hivers with that particular example; there are no human societies extant which are quite as thorough in having that attitude toward offspring.

 <shadowcat> JW's etc that frown or completely disallow medical care for kids

<BigRat> Hivers -may- have children that are in fact brutal/destructive in themselves: we have only humans, and the Sapiens/Neanderthal examples to use as a guide

<Grayman32> The Hivers are indeed the most non RSS in Traveller

<BigRat> RSS?

<PieL> damn filthy sapiens

<FreeTrav> BigRat: RSS: Rubber Suit Situation.

<FreeTrav> As in describing aliens as 'humans in rubber suits'.

<BigRat> apes. Bonobo apes may not have any STD's or they'd have a diff society

<BigRat> ah.

<PieL> So, what have we accomplished so far?

<BigRat> strictly a

<BigRat> 'predator' organism

<Grayman32> So do we have a summary of info right now

<FreeTrav> Rrrgh. No, no summary - that'd have to come from poring over the transcript later.

<PieL> It's easy to type fast when you don't turn your keyboard 7 times before typing :)

<FreeTrav> I think, though, that we've managed to agree that the Rubber Suit Problem isn't a Problem.

<FreeTrav> And that we do in fact want our aliens to be human in some respect.

<PieL> And that we have a beginning of a "Traveller Alien Measure", to see when an alien fits or not.

<BigRat> how bout K'Kree, with a Hiver society?  think I was away when that happen?

<PieL> BigRat good point :)

<PieL> Grayman32 well, what FT said about "humans in some respect".

<Grayman32> Ok thanks

<BigRat> in fact I have to make an asteroid belt out the outer planet in a solar system of mine.....

<PieL> But I think that's what we were trying to do in a way.

<Grayman32> yea in away

<FreeTrav> I think we're going to have to revisit this topic; we need more people to give input and examples.

<TimL> FreeTrav: Sounds good to me; but then I'll discuss anything to death.

<Grayman32> I think we need to talk about non intelligent creatures as well

<PieL> The more confusion, the better

<FreeTrav> Grayman32: Why?

<TimL> Non-intelligent ones are easier in many ways.

<BigRat> I'll discuss anything to death, but you knew that.

<Grayman32> yes but traveller needs them

<BigRat> no, nonintels are strict biology. Xy, xx, wy, ww

<PieL> You can't play a non-intelligent alien in any case.

<BigRat> point.

<PieL> TimL well I need a sentient victim, for one thing.

<TimL> PieL: Why not? I have.

<TimL> Oops, I meant why can't you play a non-intelligent alien?

<PieL> TimL doesn't it limit you to some very basic behaviors? fight/flee/reproduce/enjoy?

<AllenS> don't forget eliminate

<TimL> My ducks have more behaviors than that, just to begin with.

<AllenS> and eat

<TimL> AllenS: Yes, they do a lot of eliminating as well

<Grayman32> shouldn't that be fight reproduce enjoy flee

<PieL> I can't see how you'd play a non-intelligent without cheating.

<TimL> If the player won't play non-intelligent critters, and the GM won't either, who will?

<PieL> The real question is, can a non-intelligent player play a human?

<AllenS> PieL: I have gamed with ones who have tried

<BigRat> its been done a few times

<PieL> And how do you tell them they can't role-play 145 points of damage?

<BigRat> 'intelligent ...animal..... societies, humans, and non humans!

<Grayman32> animal societies

<PieL> ok so, when we look at an alien, which comes first, the body or the society?

<Grayman32> body visual references are the quickest thing to notices

<PieL> But don't they make you assume the wrong thing about the non-rubber suit inside?

<Grayman32> yes that the terrible truth

<PieL> I mean if you were presenting a new alien, is it really a good idea to talk about the body first?

<Grayman32> well if you are presenting the alien to someone who has not seen it then you start with "It has a great personality"

<Grayman32> personality=society in the bigger picture

<Grayman32> Alright has anyone ever played a hiver?

<Grayman32> has anyone played a K'Kree

<Grayman32> Why would one encounter an alien

<Grayman32> Do we care anymore tonight?

<BigRat> yup

(at this point, the chat had degenerated and no further useful/interesting material followed)