Artstyle guide:Rlaan

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Universe Background

see also:




Primary liquid bodies:

Average temperature of homeworld (pre-industrialization):


Primary challenges (pre-industrialization):




Skeletal system:

Major divisions:




Textural appearance:


Style Overview


Primary distinguishing color ranges:

Common accent colors:

Primary lighting color:

Frequently visible:

Rarely visible:

Seen inside, but not out:

Moving parts(non-turret):

Capital vs. light craft:

Cultural Aesthetics

  • The Rlaan have vast stockpiles of older craft, and, in general, large numbers of vessels
  • The Rlaan do not tend to employ missile weapons, although they will make use of drone craft.
  • Rlaan shipwrights will often prefer quantity over quality, making use of the notably higher average degree of development of the long-entrenched Rlaan colonies vs. those of the more rapidly expanded species.
  • The Rlaan produce all of the ships for their client species, but, in the case of the Saahasayaay, with some aesthetic input from said client species.
  • The Rlaan workers and defenders are deeply divergent, both physically and mentally, and this is apparent throughout Rlaan culture and works, including Rlaan ships. Rlaan workers command clearly marked (by alternate muted-pastel color palette) completely, unequivocally, unarmed vessels, and only such vessels.
  • The Rlaan are (at least in comparison to humanity) don't mind wearing the same dress to a party as anyone else: Rlaan vessels with similar tasks may be very similar visually and functionally. Rlaan aesthetics, while strange by human standards, do not tend to be particularly regional within the Rlaan Assembly, and military production contracts may run for centuries. Thus, the existing Rlaan ships give an excellent picture of what other Rlaan ships will look like.
  • Rlaan do not quickly retire old ship designs, especially non-military craft, making the average age of their fleet quite elderly in comparison to those of the oxygen breathers.
  • While they don't have mobile military bases filled with fighter-craft (in large part because all of their fightercraft are largish and jump capable - they use small (relative to the traditional concept of a carrier) "flight tender" support craft for rapid resupply and maintenance of small-craft sized vessels when ranging beyond resupply from friendly bases) they clearly do have vessels that carry other support craft and are therefore "carriers".
  • The occupation vessel (Duzong) carries Feidi and Gaodi and some Chengdi and maintenance craft.
The Colonization and Exploration vessels likewise carry a goodly assortment of shuttles, landers, and maintenance craft.
  • Those aren't solar sails on the Rlaan ships. Those are radiators that are built onto hardware for shield manipulation (or the other way around, depending on your perspective).





Installations: From a conversation on Rlaan aesthetics (with post-facto edits and additions)

t: we'll start with the "how much is alive" part

not too much, although there are a lot of organics used, especially internally.

parts of the life support system are made from arguably living material, and the automated repair systems rely upon living organisms

ToO: hmmm.. is it something that can be seen?

T: excepting one case - not really, no. Not unless, sometime far down the line we do interiors. The only visible exception is the effect that having living secretion sites would have on what we might want damage maps to look like.

for visual range, the Rlaan are heavily blue shifted relative to our visual spectrum

ToO: near uv?

T: yes, they can see in near UV, but their red-end range is inferior to ours, and their peak response point is also shifted up in frequency, although their frequency responses are more even than ours. They use 5 pigments vs. our 3.

ToO: interesting.. very much so

the reason I had previously brought up the visual range, was for colours.. so one could get an idea of what they would look like or rather one of the reasons

T: their color choices may look a bit dark (we don't percieve blue tones as intensely) and some of them bland in contrast (different pigment response curves)

ToO: ok.. so no seeing through the hulls and that whatnot.. what was the next one?

T: (although there'll be images on the hull we can't see at all, and some of the red-end of our hulls will just look black to them - their sun isn't a yellow star like ours - no superman for them ;-))

ToO: *nods* I thought that maybe some insignias and markings might look broken or even fairly faded, as parts of it, may go out of our visual range which would give it an interesting look

T: indeed.

the 5 models we have for the Rlaan are pretty good indicators of style for their military craft

  • no visible engines (the Rlaan just do gravitics)
  • Big dual purpose radiator/shield manipulator fins

ToO: how about for the larger craft.. battleships, and bases?

T: so, we've got 3 Rlaan small craft, and 2 Rlaan capital vessels right now, a destroyer and a cruiser

ToO: so.. do you want the stationary rlaan craft to follow the same general gist? squatish insect puapa (sp)

T: no, they should have a lot more radial symmetry rather than bilateral

in 4s preferably

so, for the stations

My first thought is to go for a cored, squashed, pruned, and resurfaced sea urchin look :-)

less vaguely:

an ovoid (as opposed to a spheroid, hence squashed)

with an empty center at its rotational axis (cored)

with intermittent long, thin spires and smaller fins (pruned)

ToO: more towards crystalline, or with the metallic chiton/membrane look?

T: the latter, as with the underside spires on the (destroyer?) with a surface similar to the topology and aesthetics of the cap-ships, excepting that civilian installations have a _much_ more whitewashed color scheme (as if resurfaced)

ToO: ok.. sounds a lot more simplified then I think had been coming out of some folks looking to do rlaan

T: well, that's first approximation

the surface isn't smooth though, and each of the four sections isn't perfectly ovoid

so there's plenty of detailing to be done

ToO: *nods* irregularities and so forth

T: but everything is rounded

use the 2 capships as your guide to surfacing

ToO: ok.. I'd been coping the uv maps for a little bit of a guide on some of the ships

T: Just as long as it doesn't get mistaken for Mon Calimari design, you're probably somewhere on the right track :-)

ToO: heh

T: so, the key is this

design a very interesting quarter of a station

for any Rlaan station, really

and then make 3 more of them

the only exception for this would be at the very small end (too specialized for arbitrary symmetry)

or on something like a shipyard

where it's not a practical design for enclosing things

ToO: *nods* hmm.. so you can have fairly expansive and maybe even elongaded forms.. that still follow the general outlines of this.. or are elongated forms out?

T: in what sense elongated?

ToO: well.. I wrote that thinking long.. but if you're going with general crab like shapes.. then elongated would actually be from the center out , rather than along the length of the core say the core is the y access.. you could have the center along the y and z axis fairly wide out, but not along the y axis in comparison to the z and x

T: so radially symmetric around y axis hence z=x but span(y)!=span(z)

well, yes they're radially symmetric, not spherical

but the bases won't look just like them -- they just borrow the radial concept

here are some important things to remember about the Rlaan

ToO: *nods* radial and rounded.. I'm trying to get the feel for the general way in which forms are done

T: Consider their music as indicitave in some sense of their attitude towards construction: they like to take lots of simple themes and plaster, superimpose, and alternate among them

The result, to human ears, is often hopelessly noisy, or monotonously simple, or both

two: The Rlaan are, to quote the "Tough guide to the known galaxy" "Really Alien". They aren't aliens with forehead ridges

ToO: *nods* truly different

T: They are foreign to us, and as such are not beings that should lend themselves to comfort in our perception of their being and their edifice thus, in creating things for them

there is a line to walk between creating questions of "but why would they do that?" and "No rational being could have done anything remotely like that"

ToO:hmm.. sounds a lot like a form of brainstorming that is drawing based..

T: So, having a large, prominent object of non-discernable purpose that something is built around, or a placement policy for certain necessary things that seems... odd is good, but having recognizeable objects in clearly wrong places just makes them look like idiots or lunatics

e.g. placing all of the bathrooms for human visitors inside trees - strange, possibly alien misconception. Placing all of the bathrooms outside the hull.... um.... yeah

ToO: you're looking for something that has the taste of something that was done naturally, not something that was randomly placed together

T: The best approach is to pick some fairly arbitrary goals

but ones that can be consistently applied

the key to the particular mindset of the Rlaan is that these should likely be fairly simple, but there should be many of them and they should interact

ToO: oh.. *nods* had to think about that a moment

when I say natural.. I mean that it flows as one piece. and not like it was a pirate stealing from various races to build something

T: The Shundi and Ruizong, I think do a better job of making one wonder what the designer was thinking than do the smaller craft

ToO: *nods* the smaller craft look little like different pieces slapped onto a craft to make it look different

T: they also look more familiar

they're more identifiable

ToO: so.. should greebles for rlaan look more like veins and spines?

aside from things jutting out..

also, should the fins you get with ships, be present to any degree on stationary craft

T: mmm. some spines, not too many veins. More blisters, and opened blisters with internal protrusions, and overlayed regions of different construction.

The fins should still be there

the Rlaan like to have lots of radiator surface

ToO: ok

T: and, as mentioned, there's lots of shield control circuitry embedded in those fins.

Additional information

Key Features

  • no visible engines (the Rlaan just do gravitics)
  • Big dual purpose radiator/shield manipulator fins
  • Civilian craft run by Rlaan Workers are ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, unarmed
  • No missile tubes -- Rlaan not big on missiles/projectile weapons. Openings may be present for launch tubes for drones

Canonical Examples

In Game

3D Art

2D Art

Textual Descriptions

Outliers (Canonical, but not representative)

Complete Craft Listing

See Also