« Productivity | Main | Unread-books project update »

Alien generators

| No Comments

The excellent old tabletop roleplaying game Fringeworthy had a page of tables for quickly generating the physical appearance of an alien species.

I’ve long wanted to have something similar as a web-based tool. I’ve also wanted to be able to randomly pick stuff like an economic system; I feel like there are some contexts in which I don’t need a fictional society to be completely original, I just want to throw something together quick, and I feel like a generator tool can provide some nice seeds in that direction. (I would, of course, change any of the generated characteristics that didn’t fit what I wanted to do; I’m not looking for rigid constraints, just a quick aid.)

I’ve been thinking of creating a tool along those lines for some time. Yesterday I finally sat down to start on it, and then it occurred to me that someone else might already have done something like that, and so I did a web search. And I discovered that in fact several people have created tools along these lines.

So here are links to a few of them that I thought were reasonably interesting and potentially useful:

  • First and most interesting: Chaotic Shiny’s civilization generator. It provides a whole bunch of attributes, relating to ecology, magic, politics, culture, religion, economy, military, and population. It seems to stick to pretty traditional and general ideas in all of those areas; for example, there’s a “gender ratio” number that’s just the ratio of male to female population (ignoring any other genders that a real-life or fictional society might have), and it assumes an economic system that has imports and exports and trade, and so on. But it seems like it could be very useful for getting a quick start on a fictional society.
  • The same site also has generators for lots of other stuff. There’s an alphabet/written language generator, a constellation generator, a holiday generator, a portal generator, an animal companion generator, a technobabble futuristic spare part generator, an apocalypse generator, and many more. None of them go very far beyond traditional assumptions about stuff, but many of them seem potentially useful. The site seems to be primarily focused on medieval-fantasy RPGs, but seems like it could be adapted to all sorts of milieus.
  • If you want to create your own generator tool, that same site’s list-generator builder provides JavaScript code. (I haven’t examined the code yet to see how good I think it is.)
  • Here’s an alien-race generator from Seventh Sanctum.
  • And another alien-description generator, from the Fantasy Name Generators site.
  • And one more alien species generator, from SciFi Ideas.
  • Not quite the same kind of thing as the above generators, but I feel like it’s worth tossing in another link to Sumana’s dystopia generator.

Post a comment