Humans, of course, can cause cognitive dissonance among aliens just like the aliens do among humans. A loud Hawaiian shirt tends to freak out predator species that rely on stealth and camouflage, for instance. Rigid endoskeletons are icky to tentacled beings with hydrostatic skeletons.
Just as there as Assholes Who Don't Get It among humans, there are Assholes Who Don't Get It among the galactics. They're the antagonists. They mostly don't engage in exponential expansion, but they have terrible habits like denying the free will of other intelligent species: eating them, puppeting them, enslaving them. Because eating cloned tissue and puppeting shells and being served by subsentient AIs just isn't the same as the good old days when a byakhee was a real byakhee.
All the best stuff is preadapted for other species, and it's up to humanity to figure out ways to adapt things that have been through millions of years of evolutionary design, based on fundamental principles that people are still trying to figure out. As humanity figures it out, the human-designed stuff works well for humans (as well as human engineering and QA can make it), but is much less effective than the standard galactic designs.
Post Scarcity Cthulhu: the post-scarcity galactic civilization is happy to share their technology with us. And it’s very, very alien, mostly organic.
e.g.: You can access the Galactic Information Network, but the implant most compatible with humans looks like a giant scarab beetle that covers the top of your head (it replaces the top of your skull). Exposure to alien thoughtforms makes you somewhere from openly weird to a raving loony.
In Samurai Jack, Odin, Ra, and Vishnu appeared as the monks who created his sword, but each PC could vary— e.g.: Sekhmet, Athena, and Freya.
There are numerous eras and historical figures you can use for character ideas: Roland, Joan of Arc, Ashoka, Annie Oakley, Alexander the Great, Sindbad... be sure to pick up the https://www.rejectedprincesses.com/ books for ideas!
To Vanquish Aku: each PC is the world champion of a different era (anything from ancient Egypt to the 20th century), Samurai Jack style. Each one was kicked into the far future by Aku and remembers Aku arriving in their parents’ generation. They find each other in the Aku-dominated world and team up to finally take down the big bad.
Various big space opera plots:
• A stellar stream cut off from the galaxy for aeons reconnects, and it contains a multi-system civilization. An expansionist empire is one kind of problem; a peaceful civilization that has different rules is another one.
• A rebel group is rescuing populations from a world whose dominant faction is expansionist and hiding them and copied biomes in a Type II system.
• An intelligent civilization on a water world will never get to space. Contact them anyway?
This means that the 4X narrative is very different in that universe: galactic consensus is that you live within your means, and any colonists have to be very stealthy. No expansionist, colonialist interstellar empires! Trade is all between and within the well-known civilized systems, unless you’re a rebel.
A civilized species uses one star at a time. Some like things quiet and aesthetic with very few visitors, maybe they go full Kardashev Type II and invite everybody to come build a habitat and back up the biomes from their homeworlds there.
Pondering a space opera setting that addresses why we aren’t already a satrapy for aliens:
The galactic standard proof of being a civilized species is sending out self-replicating killbots that wipe out any civilization that attempts to colonize another solar system. If a colony ship leaves your solar system first, you’re toast. If your killbots do, you’re welcomed to galactic civilization.
With the dice.camp reset, it’s introduction time again. I’m Max Kaehn. I’ve been running TTRPGs for thirty years; you may find my escaped gaming memes of interest: https://mithriltabby.dreamwidth.org/tag/escaped+gaming+meme
These days I run Fate, often borrowing mechanics from Blades in the Dark. I’m currently working on a Shadowrun conversion with a storyline along the lines of In Which We Live and Breathe: https://acegiak.net/2018/01/10/in-which-we-live-and-breathe/
Reader. Gamer. Maine Coon Cat wrangler. Software engineer. Zen practitioner. he/him
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