Monday, November 8, 2010
It is no secret to folks who know me (and/or who have read this blog), that I'm a fan of the movie Aliens- and subsequently that one of the reasons the Star Wars "Otherspace" adventures appeal to me so much is their 'Aliens-esque' nature. In these adventures, the characters are twice called upon to thwart the galaxy-destroying aims of an alien species known as the Charon. Why do I like them so much? Well, let me count the ways:
1) They have a cool backstory. The Charon homeworld was destroyed by a black hole. Those who escaped began to worship the destructive power of that 'void' and launched a crusade to 'help' all other species get in touch with the void (i.e. kill them). In short, they are an implacable foe. They don't want resources or power or anything. They can't be bargained with. They just want you dead.
2) They don't just kill you. They take your lifeless husk, stitch it together with the husks of other vanquished enemies- or even of their own, fallen bretheren, then reanimate it as a zombie. So as they kill their enemies, they swell their own ranks- and also face their enemies with the prospect of fighting people who they once knew.
3) Their ships are alive. Or once were. Though not much detail as provided, Charon ships used to be a 'race' of huge, spacefaring creatures. The charon killed them all and turned them into huge, 'undead' transports. The concept of a bunch of 'bugs' 'infesting' the rotting carcass of a huge beast is...unsettling. At least to me.
4) They are bugs. Or, more precisely an 'arachnoid' looking species. That is always creepy. They have the whole spider motif going- complete with being able to sling webs to capture their prey. Unlike spiders, however, the Charon seem to be a hive species rather than a solitary hunter. They have warrior and worker castes and leaders above those. Thus, in addition to spider creepiness you have the whole hive attitude going, where they don't care how many they lose, they just keep coming.
5) They are smart. The Charon are high-tech. They developed space travel and advanced weaponry to allow them to carry out their crusade against life. Apart from the previously mentioned ability to turn fallen foes into zombie-like 'constructs', they are quite capable of adapting alien technology to suit their needs and of using their 'wits' to overcome challenges. They aren't a mindless ravening species, they're cold and calculating.
6) They have a funky and relatively unexplored connection to the Dark Side of the Force, via strange black obelisks they keep on their starships. Evidently, these things are integral to the operation of their ships or even of their society. This leaves all kinds of room for interpretation by GMs- and opens the door for the possibility of Charon Force users.
7) They are victorious. As written, the Charon come from another 'dimension'- though this can be interpreted in various ways. Either literally or that they simply come from another part of the same universe- some remote galaxy perhaps. And in this home dimension, they have actually succeeded at their task of eliminating all life. This means that they are a viable threat to the Star Wars galaxy- an unknown force, likely numbering in the billions, that could conceivably destroy the Empire, the Rebellion, all of it. Admittedly, the numbers here are my own interpretation of what is presented in the adventures, but... they seem to make sense. It certainly makes for more drama that way.
Admittedly, the Charon aren't everyone's cup of tea, but for me they've been a great villainous species. I would hesitate to bring them over 'en masse' into the Star Wars Galaxy, however- as they would have a significant impact on the Galaxy that could alter the whole feel of the Sage. Still, they could be inserted into a New Republic Campaign as an alien race to replace the Vong in a galaxy-wide invasion. In my own campaign, they were a threat that had to be 'fended off' by a small group of players- one of those situations where the Galaxy doesn't realize how close it came to being overrun. Though, I did run an 'alternate future' adventure where the Charon were in the process of finishing their conquest of the 'known galaxy'...
In any case, I do have one problem with the Charon. The original artwork depicting them just makes them look... well. Silly. Goofy even. Certainly not terrifying. So it was that one of my earliest things was to give them a makeover. Thus you'll see the images above showing a 'before and after'. The original look and my revamped. You tell me if its an improvement. I think its okay.