Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Traders Part 2: Culture

Last week, I introduced a series of polls for my Patrons for the creation of a new alien race known as "the Traders."  An ancient race, the Traders had once warred with humanity for control of the galactic center and lost, the Carthage to humanity's Rome.  I wanted them to be a clever "mastermind" race, but without a focus on psionic abilities, but beyond that, I had no idea what they should be.

The poll proved to be a hit, and I realized I had more room for user input.  I intended to use Part 1 to illustrate the precepts of alien design: We need to know what they're like, we need to give them an obvious visual ("Weird-Pretty") and narrative signature ("They trade"), a mechanical schtick (ETS, Hyperdimensional Meditation, physical frailty), and then bind them into the setting (They look out for themselves).  The result is a nice and trim template, but with lots of flavor, which is ideal.

But what I missed still was culture.  If you hang out with Traders, what do you see?  How do they dress?  What do they eat?  They're alien because they're physically alien, sure, but are they culturally alien? That's an open question, of course.  Some aliens will just integrate with the local populace and loose any sense of unique identity, but others retain a deeply unique culture, and based on the polls, it seemed clear that the Traders were a unique culture that retained a sense of identity.

So that brings us to step 2: Trader Culture.  Using the cultural checklist, I picked out a variety of values that I found potentially appropriate, a few distancing mechanisms (I have a couple more in mind: Trader language is very unique, for example, as is their life on starships), a question about how Traders organize themselves, and what cool additional secret techniques and arts they get.  With that complete, we should know not just what they look like, but what life with them is like, at least enough to have space adventures with them, which is what matters.

If your a Companion-level Patron ($5+), come over and vote.  If you're not, we'd love to have you, and the eventual results will be in the final setting document.
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