Sources for the races in Distant Worlds


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Shadow Lodge

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I've been thinking about the origins for the races and environments on other planets, and while I've found some, others are little harder. Anyone with more pulp knowledge know where some of these come from? I'm sure that a lot of the ideas are original to Paizo, but I also know that much is borrowed from other sources, and since there's no references page, I'm trying to work backwards and figure it out, despite not having read much pulp fiction.

Aballon: This seems to be Asimov in origin, but I couldn't swear to it.

Castrovel: This one is the easiest, since the Lashunta come from the Cupians in Farley's Radio Man series. The elf thing is new, but everything else is Farley, I think.

Akiton: All Burroughs' Mars, all the time.

Diaspora: The asteroid belt is real, but I wonder where the sarcesian race comes from, or if the "two worlds slammed together" has an origin in fiction.

Verces: Hothouse? Dune?

Eox: An undead planet is logical, but I can't find an antecedent for it...

Traixus: The name "The Wanderer" seems to come from Fritz Leiber's novel of the same name, which also has a cat-like protagonist. We don't learn anything about the planet, though, so Traixus adds in elements from the Dragonriders of Pern (maybe?).

Llavara: and Bretheda (especially Marata) I'm not sure about, at all.

Apostae:The Messenger is the name of another planet in "The Wanderer," but that's the only similarity, here.

Aucturn: Lovecraft, I think.

I'd love to know some of the inspirations, particularly if any of the alien races (like the Lashunta and Traixians) have original names, if anyone knows them.


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Triaxus is equal parts Pern and A Song of Ice and Fire. It gets a bigger write up in Reign of Winter 4.

The gas giants have no real analog, I think that's just the devs looking at gas giants and figuring out what could be there, so each planet has it's own thing going on.

Sovereign Court

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Bretheda in particular reminds me of Clarke, specifically 2010: Odyssey Two (between the Brethedans being very reminiscent of Jovian life and their life-engineering tendencies).

Aucturn's flavor text seems extremely Yuggoth-inspired.

That's all I've got off the top. :)


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Part of Triaxus' flavour is the Heliconia series by Brian Aldiss.

I think that part of Castrovel's influence is also Edgar Rice Burroughs' Carson of Venus series (Venus is to Amtor as Mars is to Barsoom).

Scarab Sages

Verces might have been influenced by Roger Zelazny's novel Jack of Shadows, or by Jinx, a planet in Larry Niven's Known Space setting.

Aballon reminds me of a Zelazny short story, "For a Breath I Tarry". Both contain robots who have divided into factions after the disappearance of their creators.

I haven't read the write-up in Frozen Stars, but based on its orbit, climate shifts, and the differences between the winter-born and summer-born natives, Triaxus might have been influenced by Tran-ky-ky, from Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth setting.

I also thought of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Venus stories when I read about Castrovel.

The idea behind Apostae has been used many times in science fiction novels (David Weber's Mutineers' Moon), movies (Death Stars I and II), and TV (Star Trek: The Original Series - "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky").

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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James Sutter (who is currently on vacation) is the primary architect of all the content in Distant Worlds, and he thus could address the inspirations most accurately... but I do know that Dan Simmons, Lovecraft, and Edgar Rice Burroughs were all significant inspirations for certain portions of the book.

Sutter IS an avid science fiction fan, of course ,so I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a lot of the sources cited here inspired him. He's also a tremendously talented and creative writer himself, and I many of the things in Distant Worlds were created, whole cloth, by him.

Shadow Lodge

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that, either! I love the book and the setting, and while I know that a lot of pieces were inspired by various pulp and sci-fi authors, the creativity that went into combining it (especially under a deadline) is impressive. I just want to make sure that, if I'm writing about it in other places or talking about it with my players, I give the right sources the right degree of credit. This is what comes of being an academic, I think: a mania for proper citation of sources.

If I remember right, lashunta and formorians were in 3.5, and are from Farley (as are giant wasps, sort of), and that interests me, too. It may also mean that a 3PP could use the name "lashunta," where they couldn't use the name "kasatha," but either way they'd be just fine to use "cupian." I'm not a 3PP, but that seems like useful information to have collected.


Can't wait for Sutter to get back from his vacation to see what he has to say to this conversation.


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The Sarcesians are rather reminiscent of the Ousters from the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons.

Apostae reminds me of West End Games' Paranoia for some reason, though I don't think that is an influence.

There is also a Clark Ashton Smith Zothique "Empire of the Necromancers" vibe to Eox, IMO, if just a subtle one.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Doram ob'Han wrote:

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that, either! I love the book and the setting, and while I know that a lot of pieces were inspired by various pulp and sci-fi authors, the creativity that went into combining it (especially under a deadline) is impressive. I just want to make sure that, if I'm writing about it in other places or talking about it with my players, I give the right sources the right degree of credit. This is what comes of being an academic, I think: a mania for proper citation of sources.

If I remember right, lashunta and formorians were in 3.5, and are from Farley (as are giant wasps, sort of), and that interests me, too. It may also mean that a 3PP could use the name "lashunta," where they couldn't use the name "kasatha," but either way they'd be just fine to use "cupian." I'm not a 3PP, but that seems like useful information to have collected.

Lashunta were never in 3.5. We made them up as far as I know.

Formians are in fact from D&D... but THEY got them from the public-domain pulps... and are in the SRD anyway. We shifted them back to their status as aliens, not outsiders, to be more in sync with their original incarnation.


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I am really glad you guys did change Formians back to there alien roots.

Sovereign Court

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Dragon78 wrote:
I am really glad you guys did change Formians back to there alien roots.

Same. :)

EDIT: I still don't like that their CRs are all over the place though. It's very hard to use CR 1/2, 3, 7, 10, and 17 creatures in the same adventure. :(


You could if you spread them out for an AP.

Sovereign Court

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Dragon78 wrote:
You could if you spread them out for an AP.

Probably not enough variance, unfortunately. Plus, they're designed to work together.

That said, it's possible their powers Sliver them up enough to the point where they're viable. :)


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Of course, we probably haven't seen them all yet, I'm sure they're just waiting to release more, hopefully in the bestiaries of the Distant Worlds AP:-p

Sovereign Court

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captain yesterday wrote:
Of course, we probably haven't seen them all yet, I'm sure they're just waiting to release more, hopefully in the bestiaries of the Distant Worlds AP:-p

Unfortunately, they name names - "warriors and workers gain", etc.

They could do it, but it'll be a bit kludged. Still, we got more bee-babes in Mummy's Mask, so there's still hope. :)


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Except that conceptually, they should mostly be encountered together.

But it's not really that bad. They tend to come in logical groups.
You might encounter a couple warriors protecting some workers - probably a sign you're encroaching on Formian lands and should back off or that they're expanding into yours and you have a problem.
You might encounter a taskmaster with warrior guards and some workers travelling - The workers won't be a threat, but the warriors are mooks protecting the taskmaster.
Or a myrmarch with taskmasters and warriors - a larger force. The warriors are mostly distraction at this point.

Or you could be attacking the Hive, facing myrmarchs with class levels and hordes of the others before you face the queen.

Now I want to see a Formian AP.


I am sure there are more types of Formians out there.

I would really love to know more about Castrovel, heck we don't even know the name of the fourth continent on the planet.

Scarab Sages

You could also apply the Advanced and Young Simple Templates to bring different levels a little closer together, or to add intermediate castes.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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There are absolutely more formian types out there. Problem is that they take up a LOT of room and we don't want them to dominate things they're printed in because, like it or not, they're a fringe creature in the game and in the world of Golarion.

In the meantime, the best way to fill the gaps between CRs is by handing out class levels.


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Class based templates work even better;)

Executive Editor

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Oh man, this thread! Be still, my heart!

It's always fun to see people pick out your influences, because half the time it's spot on, and half the time it's stuff you've never heard of. :)

As it turns out, while Jacobs is correct that I was hugely influenced by Dan Simmons, the pulps, and Lovecraft for various planets, probably my biggest single influence was our own solar system. While I'm the rankest amateur when it comes to most hard science, I'm really fascinated by different astronomical phenomena and how they might impact life on a given world. So while one might look at Triaxus and think "Super-long winters and summers? Talk about a Game of Thrones rip-off!", the truth is that I actually came up with the long seasons idea by thinking about planets with really eccentric orbits, and I was totally oblivious to the parallels until I was writing the entry and typed something like "Every Triaxian knows that winter is comi—OH G!$+&+N IT!" :P

So, to list some of the broad-strokes influences:

Aballon: Real-world Mercury, and the thought that robots really ought to have their own planet.

Castrovel: A wide variety of takes on pulp Venus, including some of the ones mentioned. The Lashunta were also heavily inspired by Robert E. Howard's Almuric. (Erik Mona, aka The Pulp Master, helped lay down pulp guidelines for both Akiton and Castrovel.)

Akiton: Pulp Mars, by way of Burroughs and Brackett.

Verces: Dune never crossed my mind, though I can see where you'd get that. Actually, I've wanted to write about a tidally locked planet for years—I even wrote part of a novel about one, back before I wrote Death's Heretic, and that world served as the model for Verces.

Diaspora: Dan Simmons, plus our own asteroid belt.

Eox: It just seemed like being undead would make space exploration so much easier. Plus I saw a picture somewhere of a skeleton wearing a space helmet and went "UNDEAD ASTRONAUTS! GENIUS!"

Triaxus: I've actually never read Helliconia, and as noted didn't recognize the GRRM parallels until fairly late in the game—I was just really interested in the evolutionary effects of a highly eccentric orbit. The biggest literary influences for me on this one were Richard Knaak's Dragonrealms series and the Pern novels—the Inner Sea's never really been the right place for dragon riders, so I wanted to make sure they got their own nation somewhere.

Liavara and Bretheda: Just my ideas of what life might be like on a gas world, and all the moons gave me chances to play with fun astronomical phenomena like tidal heating or Europa-style oceans that I couldn't fit in elsewhere.

Apostae: Captured objects and generation ships! There are a million books dealing with both, but lets give the nod to Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama.

Aucturn: Lovecraft, all the time.

Pretty much everything else came from my brain—making up craziness is the best part of this job, after all! Hope that helps shed some light without killing the magic. :)

Grand Lodge

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devil.in.mexico13 wrote:

Triaxus is equal parts Pern and A Song of Ice and Fire. It gets a bigger write up in Reign of Winter 4.

I'm pretty sure that Triaxus is mainly drawn from Brian Aldiss' Helliconia series.


I thought the Lashunta were inspired by the Cupians of the Radio Man series?


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LazarX wrote:
devil.in.mexico13 wrote:

Triaxus is equal parts Pern and A Song of Ice and Fire. It gets a bigger write up in Reign of Winter 4.

I'm pretty sure that Triaxus is mainly drawn from Brian Aldiss' Helliconia series.

I am pretty sure that James ninja'ed you with the answer to the effect of "nope" :P

Executive Editor

Dragon78 wrote:
I thought the Lashunta were inspired by the Cupians of the Radio Man series?

Them too! There was a lot of pulp getting blended for our red and green planets. :)


What/Who inspired the Sarcesians?

Executive Editor

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Dragon78 wrote:

What/Who inspired the Sarcesians?

Primarily Dan Simmons' Ousters from the Hyperion novels. While he's not the only person to come up with similar designs for people living in hard vacuum, the Hyperion Cantos remains my favorite SF of all time, so I can't deny the influence. :)


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Have you read Robert L. Forward's Saturn Rukh or Timothy Zahn's Manta's Gift? They're the first two science fiction books that always pop to mind for me in regards to life on a gas giant...

Executive Editor

I have not! Thanks for the suggestions!

Shadow Lodge

Thank you for sharing the inspirations! Knowing how much of it is inspired vs. invented is fascinating, as is a look into the creative process.


Note to self: Get Distant Worlds, read more scifi.


Thanael, you haven't read Distant Worlds yet?

Mr. Sutter, is there any chance that the Formians created the Lashunta?


Nope, unfortunately not. Too much stuff, too little time.


Dragon78 wrote:

Thanael, you haven't read Distant Worlds yet?

Mr. Sutter, is there any chance that the Formians created the Lashunta?

I'd probably go other way: lashuntas uplifiting formians. Or would have lashunta being created by another party by gene-splicing elves or humans with formians.

...

Elves might created lashunta by splicing early humans with formians? But they seem to be a minority compared to lashuntas... Maybe it were lashuntas who created elves?


Okay, so I had never actually read Aucturn's article. I love it and it has replaced Eox as my favorite planet. It reminds me of Junji Ito's Hellstar Remina. At least Aucturn isn't eating other planets. Yet.

Sovereign Court

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Albatoonoe wrote:
Okay, so I had never actually read Aucturn's article. I love it and it has replaced Eox as my favorite planet. It reminds me of Junji Ito's Hellstar Remina. At least Aucturn isn't eating other planets. Yet.

Oh, no...

Spoiler:
drr...drr...drr...


I really don't see Elves created the Lashunta, maybe because they are real big on the balance of nature. Though I can see the Lashunta creating the Formians, though the Formians might not originate from Castrovel at all.

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