For Small Creatures Such As We The Vastness Is Bearable Only Through Love - Carl Sagan
In keeping with my love for solo RPGS I return this February with a game about connecting and understanding inspired by some of my favourite books I've ever read. Those books are, of course, the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers which are stories of kindness and discovery, of empathy and love. In her books, Becky Chambers has characters learn about and come to understand each other despite their alien nature. In the first of these stories the multi-species crew is so diverse and interesting that just reading their interactions and learning about their cultures, biologies, and personalities was fascinating.
With that in mind, For Small Creatures Such As We seeks to create that experience as a solo RPG. With guided species creation and an exploration system similar to that of my previous game, Apothecaria, my hope and aim is that For Small Creatures Such As We will provide hours of enjoyment and give you fully realised alien species to bring forward into other RPGs and creative writing endeavours.
To play, all you need is a deck of playing cards and something to journal in. And while I mention a lot of scientific things don't worry, like all of my games For Small Creatures Such As We is intended to be as approachable as possible. So even if you don't know fingers from toes, you'll still be able to create with and enjoy For Small Creatures Such As We.
Work In Progress of an alien otter species.
I wanted to include something in the zine that shows you don't need to be wild and wacky with your ideas as long as you enjoy them and a hexapedal otter is something I absolutely adore. But by starting with something easily imaginable, it helps to show the sort of considerations the game encourages such as:
* How do they interact with things?
In this case, our six legged otter species likes to hug things close to its body while it floats. The control orb can rest on its tummy while it uses its four arms to press buttons and manipulate it allowing it to fly ships from a comfortable floating position.
Basing it on an existing earth species makes this pretty easy. Earth otters are mostly carnivorous but do also eat fruits so we'll call our species omnivores and make a note that they are primarily carnivorous.
* How do they move?
Much like our own otters, it can swim very well and will appreciate submerged or floating modules but it can also walk on its six feet in what is called hexapedal movement (similar to an otter's quadrupedal movement).
* Why are they so similar to otters?
Ahh, therein lies the question. Even something that some people may scoff at as unimaginative can provide lots of opportunites for exploration. Perhaps a terraforming endeavour went wrong and the pre-loaded animal embryos were mutated by some alien pathogen.
As you play, you'll get prompts and events that encourage you to learn about your alien crewmate's biology, cultures, and personalities. After all, their culture might be famous for brave deeds done during galactic wars but perhaps your crewmate yearns for a more civilised and peaceful life.
The challenge, as there is always a challenge in my games, is to complete your mission while ensuring the safety of your crew. To do this you'll need to take on side jobs to gain Funds which can be used to buy Fuel, Food, and modules for your ship that make it better suited to the needs of your crew. Giving our otter crew member a water filled chamber would be much appreciated as they are Hydrophiles meaning they love water and get a Mood and Health boost by having somewhere to swim.
My goal is to include as many Traits like Hydrophile as possible to ensure that any alien species, regardless of how esoteric your idea, can be satisfyingly implemented. For example:
Mycelians -- A planet spanning network of mycelium-like structures, this species is in fact a portion of a single hive-mind entity. Every few years the network produces these independant bipeds that bear a close resemblance to some Earth fungi species. These bipedal sapients then explore the planet for resources or travel out into civilised space on information gathering journeys. Interestingly, while each of the bipedal off-shoots may only live for a decade at most, if they are able to return to their homeplanet their mind is preserved and may re-appear in the next fruiting.
Some of the Traits that this species might have and which can be affected by Ship Systems/ Food could be:
| Saprotrophic (digests decaying matter externally) -- Plant matter would be most preferable for this species but having to have decaying matter on the ship could be an interesting point of friction during mealtimes and for any species with a great sense of smell.
| Humidiphile (likes warm wet environments) -- Without a humid environment they may find themselves drying out and suffering a loss of health and great discomfort. | Darkness Lover -- The Mycelians don't use sight as their primary sense, preferring instead to use Chemoreceptors to navigate. However, what limited sight they do have is incredibly sensitive and bright lights can cause discomfort.
Wisp -- Near etheral beings of energy and light these extradimensional parasites enter sapient hosts in order to communicate with other sapients and experience things that they cannot normally experience. While some may balk at the idea, others find the sensation of having a passenger to be quite interesting and jump at the chance to give Wisps the opportunity so long as both parties come to an agreement.
| Doesn't Feed -- They have no need for sustenance that we understand. | Dependant -- They are reliant on another sapient to interact with the ship and other crew members. | Easily Amused -- They find fun in the simplest things and have a much higher base Mood as almost every sensation is new and exciting to them. | Eerie -- Other sapients may find them uncomfortable to be around due to their puppeteering nature.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect in For Small Creatures Such As We. If you'd like to support the game's development and get any Kickstarter rewards, click the link below to be notified when the campaign launches https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/diamondblood/for-small-creatures-such-as-we
Thanks for reading :)