Blue Dwarf is a play-by-post game
The following article was written by David Ball as part of Alien Week 2011.
Over the last 10 years I’ve been writing stories for my Blue Dwarf play-by-post game and we’ve invented a fair few aliens to throw into the stories. Blue Dwarf is a space-opera based on a 80’s – 90’s comedy scifi show, and has had hundreds of members over the years.
Some of the aliens we’ve written about were created to be a serious foe, most were invented just out of sillyness, but ended up sticking around for a lot longer than expected! Here are some of the most memorable:
This was the first alien race I think I ever devised. Like with any alien, I wanted to make them stand apart from Humans so gave them four arms and placed their genitalia on their foreheads. You might have guessed I was feeling immature when I first thought this up, not knowing at the time that a character from this race would be created as an NPC by one of our members, and would be been a regular character for over 10 years.
Over those years we’ve added more details to the race, including that they’re blue (this was never my original intention, someone mentioned it once though and it stuck). Also according to another of our members, Ffionian blood looks and tastes like champagne, something which I originally thought was a ridiculous idea (although who am I to judge when I placed their meat and two veg on their foreheads?!).
The homeplanet of the Ffionians is Ffion, a name of a politician’s wife I took from a news report I was watching in 2001. Because of the double ‘f’ in the name, it became an unwritten rule of mine to use Welsh names (also known for their double ‘f’s and unpronounceable words) and placenames when naming other Ffionians, or locations on Ffion.
The planet of Ffion was an unspoiled paradise, where the inhabitants were extremely liberal about sexual practises, something we’ve revealed more about over the 10 years of Blue Dwarf. Unfortunately the planet was desolated and all the inhabitants killed 1000 years ago by an insect race called the Hymenoptera (see below). This was mentioned in one of the Blue Dwarf’s earliest storylines, where the crew discovered the uninhabited planet, and only one survivor, who had been in stasis for the 1000 years.
A Hymenoptera spacecraft
I remember inventing the Hymenoptera one sunny summer holiday whilst I wasn’t at college. I wanted an alien race who were a constant threat, something we could keep bringing up time and time again, just to add more drama to a storyline and to give a purpose for certain types of missions for the characters.
The Hymenoptera more or less invented themselves. I took the name from an encyclopedia; it means a collection of insects, including wasps and ants. I find ants really interesting, and much of the Hymenoptera’s description is taken from what we know about insects, which in itself makes a pretty creepy enemy if you just imagine them larger than a person. Hymenoptera have colonies just like ants, with a Queen, workers and soldiers. We took the ideas of different types of insects and applied them to different types of Hymenoptera, always making each encounter feel a little different. We mentioned Hymenoptera that looked like spiders, some that flew like hornets, and some that were the same size as spaceships and flew through space.
One of the large bugs from Starship Troopers
I was also inspired by the film Starship Troopers, where the main enemy were the ‘arachnids’, swarms and swarms of large spider-like creatures, if that wasn’t inspiration enough, occasionally you’d see a much larger insect, a giant beetle that was their equivalent of an armoured tank. This inspired a few storylines where our characters had to fight a large Hymenoptera, stomping through a city like Godzilla.
Because I was planning the Hymenoptera to be a major long-running enemy, I teased their introduction by writing only brief sightings of their spacecraft to plant the idea into our member’s minds that there was a mysterious foe lurking about. I introduced them fully in 2001 with the storyline about visiting the desolated planet Ffion.
The great thing about the Hymenoptera is that they are so easy to bring back time and time again, and we even explained later on that they were experts at selective breeding and genetics, so developed new types of sub-creatures we could meet.
Mollopods are a fat and lazy race
The idea of the Mollopods grew from me wanting an enemy that wasn’t just a monsterous killing machine. I liked the idea of an alien civilisation that were similar to the Romans, a decadent culture who appreciated exquisite food, and thought that Human was the best food in the galaxy. What the Mollopods actually turned into was a race of fat slobbering slug-like creatures who wanted nothing more than to eat Humans, or anything really. They look something like Jabba the hut, and Slurms Mackenzie.
The first story we wrote using the Mollopods turned out to be the most gory I’ve ever written. After writing some backstory explaining that the Mollopods invented teleportion because they were so lazy to walk anywhere, and when we first encountered them they teleported our entire crew to their planet into giant blenders, which mushed up and killed off probably about half of our NPCs and abandoned characters, including one of the main characters which was a very emotional story.
The Mollopods have been mentioned many times since then, always with a hunger for the taste of Human, apart from a brief time when they Allied themselves with Earth, when we wrote a story about how they shared our Queen of England and became part of the commonwealth, until it all went pear shaped like all great stories have a habit of doing!
I don’t claim to be a literary genius, which is why you should excuse me when I tell you I got the name Krylon by mushing together ‘Cylon’ the robots from Battlestar Galactica, with ‘Kryten’, the Android from Red Dwarf.
Quite simply these are a race of robots. Much like Bender from Futurama, they’re all robotic stereotypes rolled into one. No two Krylons are alike, meaning they could look like any robot you can imagine, giving our players a lot of creativity over how they want to use them in their stories.
Invented for a storyline alongside the Eniram (mentioned below), the Aerons are quite simply feathered Vikings. They look similar to Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon, with big bushy beards, horned helmets and a large pair of bird wings on their back. Everything about them was described to be a contrast to their mortal enemy, the Eniram. The story ended with both races annihilating each other, although they did make several appearances afterwards.
They live high in the mountains and are experts in flying, and have many types of flying craft.
Surprisingly, the Aerons are one of the few alien races who aren’t enemies, although that does depend on how they’re used in the story. This was one of the first alien races we write about who could be both an ally or an enemy.
A race of humanoid fish creatures that I imagine looking like the creature from the black lagoon. Their home is an underwater base, and their leader is a large telepathic fish. These creatures don’t have any spacecraft or ability to leave the water, although they do have many submarines.
These are the recurring aliens in Blue Dwarf, we’ve mentioned many more but (like Star Trek aliens) these usually get forgotten about once the current story ends.
This article was written by David Ball, who has been writing in play-by-post games for over 10 years, and even created a website where you can start your own, OngoingWorlds.com