02.02 Rd6 Creating Non-Human Species (Aliens)

02.02 Rd6 Creating Non-Human Species (Aliens)


Begin your alien generation process by selecting an environment your alien species evolved in. Either roll
2D or pick one of the following as the primary species habitat.

2D RollEnvironmentCommon Traits
2BarrenA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
3DesertA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
4ForestA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
5GlacierA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
6JungleA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
7MountainA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
8OceanA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
9PlainsA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
10WetlandsA: Specific Terrain Survival ; SA: Environmental tolerance; D: Environmental vulnerability
11MixedCombination from above
Alien Environment


Barren environments are typically arid ones, possibly with hostile environments. The ground is extremely hard, dry and cannot sustain most forms of life. The atmosphere is likely to be intolerable to humans. Species who thrive in a barren environment may not find human-standard environments hospitable without breath masks or other life-support aids.


Deserts have sparse plant cover with large stretches of bare ground of usually sand or the like. These are harsh, dry ecosystems. Both the plants and animals found here will be very hardy and able to survive a long time without food or water. Temperatures in the desert are not moderated by any humidity and will be hot in the day and cold at night. Very cold deserts are called tundras – the ground stays frozen all year long, although the surface may thaw during a warm season and allow plants to grow.


Forests occur most commonly in temperate zones, but they can also occur in very cold or warm areas (see Jungle for tropical forests). In large forest ecosystems, the trees will probably be the most prevalent forms of life. Small plants rarely survive well in large forests. However, tiny plants thrive by living off the decaying refuse of the trees. Animals flourish in forests, most of which are herbivores subsisting on the plant life surrounding them. Large Carnivores keep the population of the herbivores under control.


Glaciers are huge frozen sheets of ice that can be several kilometers thick. Some places are permanently locked into a frigid environment (such as polar regions and planets far from their stars’ warming rays), while others are simply passing through an ice age. In the former case, life will have evolved to thrive in this environment, and have suitable protection against the cold. In an ice age scenario, the dominant species may not be entirely adapted to the environment, but is hardy or clever enough to survive.


Jungles, rain forests or tropical forests receive a great deal of precipitation and are usually on the warm side. These ecosystems support different subsystems at different heights in the trees. These may be so separated that there is no contact between the creatures in the canopy and those on the forest floor.


Mountainous planets have been (or still are) home to a great deal of geologic activity. The mountains may range from small hills to huge alps, but if they characterize a species’ main environment, they are probably fairly large. Many lifeforms live in mountainous environments. They are usually hardy, sure of foot, and accustomed to thriving in rarefied atmospheres.


A species from an ocean environment may be a marine lifeform or live primarily on the surface, like seabirds. Depending upon geological activity, oceans may be very deep or merely large and shallow. Ocean depths are sparsely inhabited and will have strange creatures unused to any light and living off the heat of volcanic vents. Coastal waters are the richest ecosystems with plenty of light and minerals and many forms of plant and animal life. On worlds with a large moon or those which circle a gas giant, coastal areas will be subject to tides that leave some land exposed part of the day. Such conditions often give rise to amphibious creatures.


Plains get less rainfall than forests and this keeps the plants from reaching great heights. Plains and grasslands may feature a tree or two, but they are few in number with a lot of space in between. Plains animals are often accustomed to traveling great distances in search of food or water. Veldts (plains located in hot climates) have more types of life forms than cool grasslands. Herbivores and insects live on the plains, and the carnivores that prey on them tend to be speed-oriented. There aren’t as many places to hide in the grasslands, so the animal life must be fast, strong or both.


Wetlands can take the form of swamps, marshes, bogs and fens. Most wetlands are in warm climates, but this is not a prerequisite. Wetlands support a vast array of lifeforms of every type.


Roll twice on this table. The environment is a combination of two other terrain types. Choose the best ones that fit your concept and discard any that don’t fit. Note that some apparently contradictory combinations can make sense. A glacier, plains combination, for example, describes a tundra perfectly.


Exotic environments can encompass all sorts of unusual conditions, from volcano worlds riddled with underground caves, to rarefied strata of gas giant atmospheres. If you like, roll on this table again, ignoring this result. Use whatever is rolled as a basis for an alien ecosystem, then go from there.

Species Origin

2D RollOriginCommon Traits
2PlantSA: Natural Weapons: Spores, Spurs, Vines, etc; D: Nutritional Requirements; Sunlight; Atmospheric Incompatibility, Minor: Prolonged Darkness; Alien Outlook
3Soft InvertebrateSA: Extra Body Part; Natural Weapons: Tentacles; Elasticity; D: Delicate Build; Alien Outlook
4-5InsectSA: Extra Body Part; Natural Weapons: Claws, Mandibles; Climbing Claws; Natural Armor: Carapace; Flying or Gliding Wings; D: Delicate Build; Alien Outlook
6-7ReptileSA: Natural Armor: Sales; Natural Weapons: Claws; D: Environmental Incompatibility (Cold)
10Hard InvertebrateSA: Extra Body Part; Natural Weapons: Claws; D: Atmospheric Incompatibility or Environmental Incompatibility
11AquaticSA: Atmospheric Tolerance; D: Atmospheric Incompatibility or Environmental Incompatibility
12AvianSA: Flying Wings;D: Delicate Build; Alien Outlook
SA = Special Abilities; D = Disadvantages

With your environment in mind, it’s time to select1 a basic origin for your species. The following categories are not all, inclusive, and to streamline things some disparate species are grouped together. Feel free to further specialize the system if you’d like to get more specific.

Select one of the following or roll 2D to get the basic biological form of your species. Disregard any obvious clashes between environment and origin.


Plants synthesize energy from water, nutrients in soil, and sunlight. They are the lowest and most common niche in an ecosystem. They tend to be immobile and typically possess only passive natural defenses such as burrs.

Sentient plant species are usually immobile, but some species can move about in search of better soil, light or nutrients. They can be very difficult to communicate with since their entire existence is based upon a life where food is present every day and they lack many concepts humans and other animals find natural.

Soft Invertebrate

Soft invertebrates include species descended from soft, bodied creatures without bones, such as worms slugs or snails, or· octopi. These creatures may eat either plants or animals and can form colonies or stay independent. They can take many forms, and some species are able to change form as necessary. They usually move about using muscles, and some creatures have very unusual internal structures that give them some of the rigidity necessary to enable swift movement.


Insects are arthropods. For simplicity’s sake, arachnids are lumped in with insects. Most have well, defined segmented bodies consisting of a head, thorax and abdomen. Others have evolved into other forms, like humanoid insectoid species. Insects may have any number of jointed legs, usually have exoskeletons, and some have wings. Sentient insects may be carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, or scavengers.


Reptiles are cold, blooded vertebrates which usually have a bony skeleton and a body covered in scales or bony plates-species like snakes, lizards, turtles, or crocodiles. Most reptile species live on land and lay eggs. ~ese species may be carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, or scavengers.


Mammals are warm-blooded vertebrates who nourish their young with milk secreted from mammary glands. Most mammals are covered in hair or fur (though like humans, body hair might be extremely fine). Mammals may be carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, or scavengers.

Hard Invertebrate

Hard invertebrates have hard outer bodies and no internal skeleton. They often have jointed legs. Examples include crustaceans and some flying creatures. These species can be very diverse. Most hard invertebrates are carnivorous or scavengers, but some may be herbivores.


This category includes species descended from creatures that lived in marine environments. While these beings may be amphibian, mammalian, reptilian, or fish-like, they are grouped into this one category to make indexing easier. These species may be carnivores, omnivores, herbivores or scavengers. Sentient marine beings may breathe air instead of water if desired, or both.


This category includes species descended from warm-blooded, feathered, winged creatures. The species may still be able to fly, or might have evolved to live on the ground. Fliers normally have light bones or incredibly powerful muscles, so that they can stay aloft. These species may be carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, or scavengers.

Ecological Role

With your species origin in mind, you can consider what role it played or continues to play in its ecology. Are your aliens herbivores or carnivores? Deciding what role of the ecosystem your new species springs from goes a long way towards defining that species.

Determine the ecological role of your species by either rolling 1D or picking one. Omnivores and carnivores are given a better chance of occurring because their dining habits encourage both aggression and innovation – presumably important factors in developing sentience. If your new alien is a plant life form, you can choose to skip this step, unless the plant is a sentient Venus-Fly Trap.

1D Ecological Role Common Traits
1HerbivoreD: Metabolic Difference; SA: Natural Armor; Natural Camoflage; Enhanced Sense; Night Vision; Danger Sense
4-5CarnivoreD: Metabolic Difference; SA: Natural Weapons; Enhanced Sense; Night Vision
6ScavengerD: Metabolic Difference; Enhanced Sense


Herbivores are plant-eaters. Natural defenses can include acute senses, high movement speeds, armor, and natural weapons that can be used in combat. Sentient herbivores may be skittish, oriented toward large groups and not as aggressive as species descended from carnivores and omnivores. Herbivores tend to have speed or passive defenses (armor or camouflage for example) to protect themselves from predators.


Carnivores are meat-eaters, normally preying on herbivores or smaller and weaker carnivores. They often compete with one other, although carnivores in the same ecosystem will often evolve unique abilities that differentiate them from other carnivore species. There are few standard characteristics of carnivores: some are solitary while others hunt in packs. Some carnivores are active only during daytime, others only at night; some are highly territorial, while others are migratory. In general, like most animals, carnivores will adopt behaviors most likely to preserve and continue the species.

Sentient carnivores are descended from hunters, and may be cunning, aggressive and violent. They may have special adaptations, such as claws, poisonous bites or other items that enable them to attack and kill prey. Since the species has evolved intelligence and has probably begun using tools, the species may have lost these adaptations. Carnivores may also move fast, though others might lie in wait for prey instead.


Omnivores are creatures that eat both plants and animals. They usually compete with carnivores for prey, and often hunt some of the carnivores themselves. These creatures are highly variable, adopting whatever behaviors and evolving whatever traits are most likely to enable them to survive. Those that don’t evolve die out. Sentient omnivores can be competitive and aggressive, but may also be curious, eager for contact with new and unknown beings and cultures. They may have natural defensive abilities or offensive ones.


Omnivorous in their own right, scavengers are the final primary role in ecosystems. Scavengers survive by feeding off the remains of animals or plants after they have been killed. They are seldom as strong or dangerous as the hunters that made the kill, but do often have formidable natural defenses. Because of the varied nature of homeworlds, there are no hard and fast characteristics of this species, except that because it is evolved from a scavenger, it is clearly not the most dangerous or powerful form of life on the planet.


The physical appearance of an alien will follow directly from the environment and evolutionary stock, so now that you have established these aspects of your alien, refine its physical appearance. Just knowing whether the alien is a reptile or insect gives you a big heads tart.

Most aliens in RPG settings are humanoids for ease of roleplay. So you can start there if you like by giving our alien two arms and two legs (or tentacles, maybe). Sentient beings need a way to manipulate their environment, so they should have hands, pincers, suction-cups or something at the end of at least one of these appendages. They also have
heads in the usual place, though the appearance of the head, and the number of sensory organs located in it are for you to determine.

The other features of an intelligent species are likewise open to the imagination. If a species does not have a special need for camouflage it can be any color you like. Keep in mind that most creatures evolve towards efficiency and not away from it, so there shouldn’t be too many contrasting features on one creature. You can take this opportunity to develop some of the biological and cultural details of the species. How do the aliens reproduce, for example? Are there more (or less) than two sexes?

You might want to revisit this step after assigning special abilities to your alien. Some special abilities can have a big impact on appearance. For example, if you give your species the ability to fly, it should have at least one pair of wings.

Technological Development

As intelligent species begin to develop, they form societies with a distinct culture. One measure of the development is the technological level achieved by the most advanced group of the species. Most newly discovered species in the frontier region of space will have low technology levels. This is because as a species’ technology improves, the species is more likely to have already contacted galactic civilization.

As one ventures further into the unexplored wilderness, the probability of discovering a high technology species, while not great, does increase. Bear in mind that not all cultures develop at the same pace, and that technological breakthroughs may come in a different order than they did on Earth (our own real-world model). For example, one society may develop computers without having first developed printing presses, or continue to use steam-powered vehicles while developing spaceworthy craft.

Roll on this table, either 2D+1 or 3D depending on how you want to limit the result.

3D or 2D+1 Random RollTech Level (TL)Human Era Description
31Stone AgeFire has been discovered; sharpened sticks and stones are the basic armaments; the wheel and lever are the mechanical wonders of the day; Animal domestication is common, as are building villages.
42Bronze/Iron AgeThis is a time of metal working, walled cities, stone monuments, sailing ships, and simple writing. Accomplished warriors wear metal armor and carry spears, swords, bow and arrows. Iron advanced the weapons making, siege machines were developed to defeat the walls and cities grew larger and more fortified.
53Medieval AgeIron gives way to steel weapons and armor while more complex weaponry is developed like the cross bow. Humans refer to this Dark age as it marks a era retrogression and loss of technical and social gains made in earlier ages. Many fantasy settings are set at this tech level.
64RenaissanceRebounding from the Dark Ages, for Humans this was a period of rediscovery, art, and philosophy. Gunpowder makes major changes In the waging of war, and information exchange advanced with movable type printing. Many fantasy settings are also at this level.
75Industrial/Engineering RevolutionSteam and other combustion engines drive industry to a new level of production. Cures are found for some diseases. Electricity Is utilized to a limited extent for communication and illumination. These also drive new forms of transportation, Including personal cars, war machines, and fixed-wing aircraft. Radio, television, suborbital rockets and small automatic weapons are developing. Steam Punk, Diesel Punk, and Pulp settings are typified by this Tech level.
86Information AgeNuclear power produces electricity as well as weapons of mass destruction. Orbital spacecraft visit nearby satellites and unmanned probes explore other
planets in the solar system. World spanning information networks create a unified way to connect. Modern settings are usually at this tech level.
97Fusion AgeFusion power creates nearly endless cheap energy. Laser weapons and cybernetics become common. Manned exploration of the home system, establishment of orbital and scientific colonies around or on other planets within system. Cold sleep used for long Interplanetary trips and generations ships are launched. World spanning Cybernet has contains all the information and communication of the world. Cyberpunk settings are common at this level.
108Spacefaring AgeThe cybernet systems give way to artificial intelligence machines, starting with non-self aware but growing to self aware. Androids and other automated assistants are common. Industry is completely automated. The home system is colonized with independent colonies and whole cities now orbit the planets. Sub-light exploration of the stars begins.
119First Stellar Age The first Faster-than-light (FTL) drives are discovered and exploration of interstellar space begins. Androids and sentient beings works side by side in the expansion into the galaxy. The first stellar nations are formed.
1210Second Stellar AgeFTL communication allows for connections between systems to solidify forming strong and more unified stellar nations. Wars are common between these nations as technology advances. Other sentient beings are also discovered. New Empires are formed and fall.
1311Third Stellar AgeAnti-Matter drives new FTL (Warp) brings the known stellar factions together. New Federations are formed. New weapons, matter transference, and subspace communication. Energy Shield protect startships.
1412Fourth Stellar AgeEnergy shield protect personal vehicles and other craft as well as individuals. Anti-gravity and repulsor-lift technology becomes common. Large Imperiums are formed.
1513Ultratech AgeTerraforming technology is perfected, including shifting planets orbits to more favorable locations. Androids and automated beings are indistinguishable from humans and have equal rights.
1614Transmatter AgeProgrammable matter is common. Matter can be broken down to energy and rebuilt. Unlimited FTL communication is now possible.
1715Dysonian AgeWorld building is possible. The building of Ringworlds and Dyson Spheres are possible.
1816Supertech AgeTechnology is indistinguishable from Magic