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Valaggar
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Precursor physical appearance
« on: September 08, 2007, 11:00:17 am »

What do you imagine them like, physique-wise?

In my imagination, they look quite like a sort of fat, gray, troll-like humanoids with four feet (the second pair behind the first pair, centaur-like). Booming, low-pitched voices of course, though spoken with the mouth just narrowly open (I mean the voice actor opens his mouth only narrowly, not the in-game character).
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 11:34:04 am by Valaggar the Wackrazy One » Logged
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2007, 11:05:04 am »

I picture them sort of like wooly mammoths, but with more manipulative appendages.
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Simon K
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2007, 12:30:53 pm »

The Slylandro knew them, and called them the "Shaggy Ones" -- so we know that much. Furthermore, the manual mentions that they're very large compared to humans.

I've always pictured them as gigantic towering humanoids, covered in hair. I've always pictured their hair as having basically warm, earthen tones, like brown, tan or green. Some similarity, like Valaggar suggested, to a Norse Troll or Jotun. For whatever reason, I've always assumed they had tails, looking somewhat like the tails of donkeys (which, incidentally, many modern artists and animators put on Norse Trolls). I've always imagined them leaning more towards muscular than fat, though.

I always had a weird mental image of their voices -- something like an Ent from LOTR with a more melodic pronounciation.
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2007, 07:46:05 pm »

Quote
I picture them sort of like wooly mammoths, but with more manipulative appendages.
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2007, 10:19:26 pm »

I agree with waywardoctagon.  I wouldn't be surprised though if their trunks were more manipulative that that of a mammoth or modern elephant
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2007, 02:24:03 am »

I could never understand why the Precursors were so big. It even seems unlogical to me that elephant -sized beings would be such intelligent: they'd be very busy eating a lot of food instead of inventing great things  Grin
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2007, 09:17:28 am »

I imagined them at first as giant humanoids.
Of course when I played SC3 and found out how they looked like I was very disappointed.
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2007, 12:42:25 pm »

I could never understand why the Precursors were so big. It even seems unlogical to me that elephant -sized beings would be such intelligent: they'd be very busy eating a lot of food instead of inventing great things  Grin

Well ... that is certainly the case for very large land creatures on Earth.

However, that doesn't really need to be a universal constant.

What if their planet housed large and extremely energy- and nutrient-rich lifeforms that could feed even a Precursor for a long time, and their digestive systems could take a long time to break such food down, continually providing the Precursor with energy in the process?

What if Precursors were exothermic (say, because they lived in a continually warm climate where endothermism was not a major benefit anyway)? Their hair could be for other purposes (camouflage, for instance, or socially-related, like sexual dimorphism) than keeping them warm. Even large exothermic creatures can comfortably subsist on very small amounts of food compared to endothermic ones -- keeping a constant body temperature is quite expensive. Incidentally, that'd also give the Precursors longer lifespans (and longer time to sit around and think about great inventions).

What if Precursors evolved, like blue whales and whale sharks, to feed on very large amounts of microorganisms? If their atmosphere was rich in mobile flitting microorganisms, then a filter-feeder could eat constantly, even while sitting around thinking about great inventions.

We still need to explain why a very large creature would benefit from high intelligence. If they were so large that they had no major natural enemies, then their intelligence would probably have arisen for dealing with increasingly complex social interactions (as in Earth primates, cetaceans and elephants), or for dealing with deception (as in some of the more intelligent Earth avians, such as corvids). Alternately, they might have evolved on a planet where *everything* is very big, where even the giant Precursors had to deal with gigantic, nightmarish predators.
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2007, 12:43:06 pm »

....and of course, the less said about the SC3 Precursor story, the better.

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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2007, 01:26:32 pm »

It even seems unlogical to me that elephant -sized beings would be such intelligent:
Elephants are pretty intelligent...
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2007, 03:56:09 pm »

Alternately, they might have evolved on a planet where *everything* is very big, where even the giant Precursors had to deal with gigantic, nightmarish predators.
It is possible that a lower gravity would go some way toward explaining that. One reason why big animals can't hack it is the square-cube law; basically, muscle power doesn't increase as quickly as mass when you scale creatures up. An elephant-sized creature therefore needs a much larger proportion of its mass to be muscle than an ant just to be able to walk around. Under lower gravity, you don't need as much force to lift stuff, so the possible size of the creatures increases (very roughly) proportionally to the decrease in gravity. Of course, the big ones are still going to be underpowered in Earth terms, but at least they can run around on their own planet (albeit for very slow values of "run").

Of course, other factors affect this as well. Creatures with a density similar to the medium they move in (water, instead of air, for example) can float around regardless. This is, of course, not applicable to the Precursors if we assume they are land animals (the environment on their ships and colonies seems to suggest that).

One problem with postulating a low-gravity Precursor homeworld is that the atmosphere (and I'm assuming that Unzervalt was habitable to Precursors, meaning that Precursors and Humans breathe roughly the same stuff) depends on what gases gravity can keep. Drop to our moon's size (1/6 g, roughly), and you pretty much get an airless rock. Mars manages a thin carbon dioxide layer, but as far as I can tell, free oxygen would be a bit too short-lived for evolution. Dropping the temperature would probably help a bit here (and explain the fur), but, again assuming similar biochemistry, you need unfrozen water for life. Mars is too small despite being cold.

Guesstimating based on the above vague reasoning, I'd say that allows the Precursors to come from a planet with everything about twice the size of equivalent Earth life, an ice-age-ish climate and something like half our gravity. Assuming the Precursors are our analogues, that makes them  3-5 m tall (Hayes says 5-8) and twice as wide (as Hayes says).

Any Xenobiology major here who needs a thesis topic? Smiley
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Valaggar
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2007, 07:47:45 pm »

Unzervalt had 28 centigrades, so if we assume that it was precursorformed, it means that the Precursors didn't actually evolve on an ice-age-ish world. Not that it makes sense to terraform a factory world operated by robots, anyway.

That being said, even if it is possible that the Precursor homeworld had low gravity, it's also likely enough that it had a gravity similar to or higher than Earth, and that the Precursors had evolved a very effective locomotory system, and what made them evolve to sapience was either pressure from within their own species - competition between rival communities or sexual selection - or from without - probably the other species (some of them, at least) had enhanced locomotory systems too, as the Precursors evolved from them. It's worth noting that the Precursor switches, buttons etc. aboard the Vindicator couldn't be moved easily by humans. ("Levers were almost impossible to move, three people were required to actuate a single switch, and the chairs, beds and other furnishings were better suited for a wooly mammoth than a human." - that would seem to imply that their muscular system had a power significantly more than three times greater than a Human one, while they were only three times as large as humans).

And just the fact that they were shaggy isn't enough to imply that they were covered in fur (which would imply an ice homeworld) - maybe they had Human-like hair and weren't too fond of the idea of shaving themselves.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2007, 08:15:32 pm by Valaggar the Wackrazy One » Logged
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Re: Precursor physical appearance
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2007, 08:23:05 pm »

Hair, or feathers for that matter, doesn't necessarily have anything to do with keeping warm.

For instance, all spiders have hair covering their legs (and some, including all tarantulas, have it on the rest of their bodies as well). This hair has many nerve endings, and serves to give the spider a very sensitive sense of touch.

Some early dinosaurs (from periods in which it is likely that most or all dinosaur species were exothermic) may have had feathers. These didn't help them keep warm (both hair and feathers are useless for that in exothermic animals), but they may have had texturing and colour making them suitable for camouflage.

In humans, body hair is pretty much vestigial, and is mostly trait of sexual dimorphism. Even in a very hairy human male, the body hair gives no significant protection against cold.

In short, Precursors covered in hair doesn't necessarily imply they come from a cold climate.
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