Thursday, October 25, 2018

Alien-tober: Top Ten Star Wars Aliens (Disney)



Thunderchild has vanished. In his absence, four films into the Disney revival, the fandom is in disarray. Although THE FORCE AWAKENS and ROGUE ONE were well-received, THE LAST JEDI has divided opinions the likes of which haven't been seen since the days of the prequels. In the wake of this catastrophe, SOLO actually lost money at the box office.

Amidst the accusations of political agendas and fake reviews, one topic catches Thunderchild's eye: "the new Star Wars aliens are BORING."

Now emerging from hermitage and a day job on the occasion of Halloween, the blogger of aliens and monsters returns to try and bring something positive to the discussion in a format appealing to the lowest common denominator: a TOP TEN LIST.

10. Crolute (Unkar Plutt)

I love the blobfish-inspired facial features, and like others on this list, the fact that this character actually has a role in the story, however minor. Too many aliens get relegated to living background props, but instead this ugly junk-monger holds a place in Rey's mysterious past, and serves as an early obstacle on her "hero's journey."

9. Tognath (Two-Tubes)

It may be unclear on first viewing, but there are actually two of these guys, Edrio and Benthic, in Rogue One. The breath mask implies that the common oxygen atmosphere isn't what these guys breathe, and that makes the galaxy seem bigger with the implication of alternative biochemistries. Also it gives them an intimidating visage, emphasizing how they're on the side of the good guys, but they're not really good guys, being part of Saw Gerrera's extremists.

8. Crusher Roodown

Would be ranked higher if he wasn't an Abednedo (see below), but I love that instead of deciding between an alien or a cyborg, the filmmakers said "why not have both?" It's neat seeing a cyborg that feels like "we tried!" Where the end result is half-man, half construction equipment. There's a sad story behind this character, and we know this just from a two-second glimpse.

7. Corellian "Hound"

Alien rottweilers? Pit bulls? Either way, keep them indoors when my hypothetical niece is selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door.

6. Ardennian (Rio Durant)

About time we saw an alien with more than two arms and legs and wasn't relegated to "Podracer #4". I loved Rio's attempts to blend in with the human troopers on Mimban like a trio of kids in a trenchcoat.

5. Drabatan (Pao)

The sole alien in the "Rogue One" squad that retrieved the Death Star plans. Nothing particularly special, I just really like his design. He also managed to be distinctive enough to draw comment by the Rifftrax guys ("GAH! Call the exterminator! You've got....those guys!")

4. Rathtar

A mess of eyes, teeth, and tentacles that moves terrifyingly fast. The filmmakers deserve credit for a design you want to stay as far away from as possible.

3. Captain Sidon Ithano / The "Crimson Corsair"

Action-figure bait? Maybe. But that kind of mentality does lead to some memorable designs. Sorry Phasma, this guy's the real Boba Fett of this trilogy.

2. Lanai (Caretakers)

Here we have what could best be described as "alien nuns." A juxtaposition of the fantastic with the familiar, the Caretakers' robes evoke images of saintly workers, underlining how the ruins of the first Jedi Temple, over a thousand generations old, are revered by this race the way many sites in the Middle East are revered. If the filmmakers had treated the source material with a little more of the same reverence and cut down on the jokes, maybe The Last Jedi would have been better received.

1. Grindalid (Lady Proxima)

Quite possibly the most truly "alien" race seen in the revival, a semi-aquatic race of albino worms who are very photosensitive. Only able to walk around the streets of Corellia in full body suits, this would explain why the White Worms gang takes human orphans into its fold, to act as their agents. Lady Proxima displays a non-humanoid aspect reminiscent of a later thorn in Han Solo's side, Jabba the Hutt. Ultimately we have a memorable character whose traits inform elements of the story, yet all left for us to infer rather than spelling it out for us. This is the kind of bizarre that aliens can bring to the table in Star Wars, and the series definitely needs more of it.


Mon Calamari (Adm. Raddus and his bridge crew)

We've already seen the Mon Cal species and Admiral Ackbar will forever be remembered, even if only for an internet meme. In Rogue One we see more of his race in the Rebel Alliance, but they look distinctly different. Instead of rust-red skin, Raddus has steel-gray skin with what appears to be a paler underbelly, while his crew members seem to have pale white skin. Instead of just recycling old designs, we see new variations on something familiar, giving newfound depth to a race we recognize, indicating that there's significant diversity of appearance among these aquatic people. Worldbuilding without words. I love it.


Nu-Cosian (Bobbajo the Crittermonger)

Would've made the Top Ten if he wasn't obviously a ripoff of the "Prophets" from Halo.

Better luck next time!


Had two funny scenes in all of The Last Jedi, one of which lasted less than 5 seconds. After that Chewie should've hunted them to extinction. Then there'd be none left to guilt him out of eating them roasted (hey, Wookiees need a lot of calories, don't judge him!)


Just so uninspired. Flesh-toned flat rubber-faced aliens with nothing to make them stand out, but for some reason they're EVERYWHERE in Episodes VII and VIII. Every Abednedo in the trilogy could've been a Twi'lek, Ithorian, Duros, Quarren, Rodian, Ishi Tib, Sullustan....I could go on. I think when people say the aliens of Disney's Star Wars are uninspired, this specific species is what they have in mind. It makes sense that viewers should be rewarded for paying attention, and an easy way to do that is have characters be alien races we've seen before. But instead those well-rememberd aliens are all but nowhere to be found, replaced with something visually inferior. If this is the "flagship" alien race for the sequel trilogy, I'm sincerely disappointed.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Minecraft Monster Month Part 7 (FINALE): Halloween Horrors

The Minecraft world is massive, and it is filled to the brim with stories. Here are just a few more.


Sometimes when kids visit the pumpkin patch, they'll get an unexpected scare when one of the gourds leaps out and attacks them with a wooden sword. Nobody's sure where Patchkin comes from, but he doesn't seem to mean any harm, even though he doesn't seem to recognize that a wooden sword can kill someone.

They say he's the reason so many pumpkins grow with faces already carved into them, and that he even has a way to make giant pumpkins grow, though he's not telling how.


By contrast, another living scarecrow presents a much greater danger. They say Cropsy was once a normal scarecrow belonging to a normal farmer, until that farmer's land was raided by griefers. The farmer was slain, but his ghost entered the scarecrow and slew all the griefers.
Now they say he appears if you pick crops from farms that don't belong to you, and he'll charge you with his hoe (he prefers to call it a scythe). So maybe think twice before harvesting those Villagers' crops when they're not looking!


There's impatience, and then there's the man who devoted his life to better teleportation. He experimented with Ender Pearls, Chorus Fruit, and more in an attempt to create gates to cross the Overworld without travelling through the Nether. Until he tried something insane: he built and lit a Nether portal in the End. The portal activated, but when he stepped through it...well, nobody's sure what exactly happened, but now people have sighted some kind of half-man, half-Enderman across all dimensions, seemingly appearing and disappearing at random.

Is he in control of his teleportation? No one knows. What happens if you look at him? Sometimes he attacks, sometimes he doesn't seem to notice. Whatever the answers, it looks like, in a way, he got his wish.

Shroom Glutton

Mushroom islands are a fun place to visit or to settle. There's a ready source of food, and monsters never spawn.

But they say there's a danger nonetheless. If you live on a steady diet of nothing but red mushrooms, day in and day out, for too long, eventually something...strange happens to you.

Eventually the human body is overtaken by the shrooms, and you become a single-minded consumer of red mushrooms, all day every day.

As cliche as it may sound, the moral of this story is this: keep a balanced diet!

Dungeon Spectre

Not every dungeon and stronghold below the surface was built by the Stronghold Monarch. They say many of the original builders of these structures remain as the Spectres.

Despite being actual ghosts, they rely on fright more than fight. Stand your ground against these beings and they may flee. Or if you can expose them to sunlight, they will definitely flee.


Walk far enough in any direction, and eventually the land starts to get...strange.
The Far Lands are the stuff of legend, where the terrain defies logic, and bizarre anomalies like stone waterfalls can be found. But it's also a dangerous place. Dwelling in a place where the rules of the world act differently can take its toll. Do not allow the lure of the search for novelty to lead you into unnecessary danger; at some point you have to return to normality, or you may end up like the Farlander.

Like the Bisector, the Farlander seems to appear and disappear at will, though they've never been reported attacking people. So little is known about this person. Are they a boy or a girl? Is it even the same person every time they're sighted? Can anything be done for them?

The Unshorn

You need wool to make a bed. Wool comes from sheep, and there's two ways to get it: shear it off...or kill the sheep. It can take a while to get those iron ingots though, so newcomers often have no choice. Or they're starving and mutton seems appealing. But there's one entity that doesn't care, a being driven by one belief: that sheep should never die.

They say with each sheep you slaughter, you increase the chances that the Unshorn will appear behind you and exact vengeance for his species. He makes no exceptions. So if in the dead of night you feel that you must kill sheep, I won't judge you; killing animals to survive is a part of nature. But be ready to defend yourself from the scariest sheep in existence.

The Lapis Lady

They say a powerful enchantress was once married to a sailor, until the sailor was lost at sea. Some say he was taken by the Sea-Swallowed Captain. The enchantress searched desperately for a way to find her husband, expending stacks upon stacks of lapis trying to come up with a new enchantment for a compass to locate him. She soon became drenched in lapis, her skin stained blue.

Having exhausted her supply, she took the items she had tried to enchant - a boat, a fishing rod, and a compass - and departed to search the seas for her lost love. They say she still searches today.


Once upon a time there was a village that was near the dangerous Webbed Forest.

This place was infested with spiders, and even Cave Spiders would appear on the surface sometimes. It was also known for the larger Brown Spiders. The village's main export was string.

One day a young woman ran away from home; the entire town turned out to search for her, but quickly were forced to turn back when night fell and the spiders got hungry.
One year later, the town was overrun by spiders of every kind. The handful of survivors claim they saw a woman riding one of the spiders, as if she was commanding them as her own personal army!

Was she merely drunk with power, or did she have a vendetta, believing the townsfolk gave up on her too soon? Either way, the legend of the Silksnatcher is at the back of many a miner's mind when spiders appear in the depths.

The House of Horror

Far away from any known lands, an explorer once brought back the tale of a most horrifying house. No mere Woodland Mansion was this; it existed in a massive crater in the ocean, as if it had been brought there by a crashing meteor from the Void.

Surrounding this house are Polterghasts, which apparently somehow found their way to the Overworld from the Nether and, seeing the open sky for the first time, were terrified by the lack of a cavern roof above them. As unnerving as they may be, they are apparently harmless.

But the interior of the house is another story.

Some mad scientist or mad wizard had taken helpless Villagers and turned them into monstrosities. Vampires who could transform into bats at will. Werewolves who would change shape in the darkness and the light.

And bizarre Frankencrafted livestock ("Frankenstock?") that will attack on sight, so unlike their friendly counterparts!

What twisted mind could have done this? At least for now it looks like none of these creatures will escape the crater...but since the vampire bats can long will that last...?

The world may be about to get even more dangerous. Aliens, giants, giant rats, griefers, ghosts, and now vampires and werewolves? There is so much to be afraid of, but that means there are so many fears that can be faced and conquered. The point of the Ender Dragon is not that it exists, but that it can be slain. There are enterprising crafters who farm Withers for their Nether Stars. Maybe it's not just the people who have things to fear. So this Halloween, let's see how many of these monsters can feel fear! Put on your best armor, sharpen your best weapon, and once your costume is complete...

Show the monsters something to be afraid of! Trick-or-treat! Happy Halloween, and good hunting!


Aether Mod by Gilded Games
Biome Bundle by MC_Pitman and LordSmellyPants
All other Minecraft content created by Mojang. This blog is not affiliated with Mojang or Microsoft in any way.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Minecraft Monster Month Part 6: Fearsome Fossils and Sinister Sounds

As I've said before, the scariest thing you can describe is the thing that nobody knows anything about, because it means that nobody has ever seen it and lived to tell about it. Too often we fall into the assumption that we know every creature that exists in the world. But unfortunately if you really stop and consider the evidence, it's clear that that's not true...

Unknown Fossils

Exploring the underground, miners and explorers have periodically encountered massive structures of bone block. When a responsible person gets to them first, they are excavated properly instead of being immediately harvested for bone meal. In all the years of surveying the world's caves, eight unique structures have been identified: four types of skulls and four types of spinal chords.

The implications of these skeletons is disturbing. It's generally assumed that the largest creature across all known dimensions is the Ender Dragon, but the scale of these bones does not bear that out. Neither humans nor Villagers have any record of these creatures, so it is unlikely they were hunted to extinction. They could have evolved into smaller mobs we know today, like cows, pigs, or even Guardians (one of the skulls does appear to have only one eye socket), but evidence of species evolution in the Overworld, Nether, or End is actually non-existent, and the Minecraft world/universe/multiverse is actually believed to be no more than 600 or 700 years old.*

So that leaves us with the uncomfortable but likely prospect of giant creatures roaming the underground. For all we know they, whatever they are, are responsible for the abundance of caves in the first place! Perhaps these are the fabled "Red Dragons" that can be tamed as mounts? Or something else giant salamanders, or "Megamanders," if you will?

Unknown Sounds

But they're just bones, right? It's a stretch to think there's unknown monsters running around in the dark solely because of some rare skulls and ribcages, right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

In years of spelunking, many if not most explorers have heard sounds not associated with any known creature. Some have even managed to capture these creepy sounds on records. And periodically travelers will compare notes and agree that yes, they have heard the same sounds. And these sounds aren't just the wind whistling through narrow passages.

The speculations of what those sounds mean are varied and diverse...
...A giant Blaze escaped from the Nether?
...An underground geyser going off?
...A Red Dragon or a Megamander, splashing into an underground lake?...A reptilian Troglodyte, employing echolocation or signalling its pack?
...A Grue, about to pounce and eat you in the pitch blackness?
...An abandoned Redstone trap?
...A Spectre wailing?
...A Gargoyle trapped in a stone cocoon at bedrock level?
...A Rusty Golem, an Iron Golem abandoned, weakened, and gone crazy?

Whatever is down below the world's surface, remember to never let your guard down. You never know if the first time you see something new will also be the last time you see anything at all...

*This merits an "out-of-universe" explanation: the first public version of Minecraft was released on May 17, 2009, roughly 8 1/2 years ago at time of writing. Because a full day-night cycle in-game takes 20 minutes instead of 24 hours, a factor of 72. Thus, 8 1/2 years in real life corresponds to a little more than 600 years in-game.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Minecraft Monster Month Part 5: Nether Nasties

Of course we'd be talking about the Nether eventually! Most consider it the quasi-G-rated Minecraft equivalent of hell, but the way players casually venture forth into it to get resources like Blaze Powder and Nether Wart (ok, maybe not casually) makes it seem to me more like the equivalent of, for example, Mordor, or Mustafar, or wherever Bowser's Castle is located. It feels like it should be the domain of a "Dark Lord".

Legend does tell of the Lava Fiend, the ironclad self-styled lord of the Nether. People think he's the Stronghold Monarch's brother, but there's no evidence of this, because nobody's ever had the presence of mind to ask either of them.

In any case, he definitely seems to imitate the Monarch (or perhaps the Monarch imitates him), in that he inhabits a network of fortresses and appears to be responsible for some of the resident monsters. In fact a case could be made that he's the necromancer responsible for every monster in the Nether. In particular, the fact that Blazes only come from spawner cages in said fortresses does suggest they're not naturally occurring.

Details on his fighting abilities are scarce. People talk about a "Flaming Sword", and that he has a knife that can slay Zombie Pigmen in a single hit. And with all that Nether Wart being cultivated, he's got to have potions, right? It's generally agreed though that setting him on fire won't do anything, nor will pushing him into lava. Even if he's 100% fire resistant, there's a theory that the green gem on his chestplate is actually an enchanted Ender Pearl that will let him escape drowning in lava. Just to make the terror complete, he's commonly depicted with elytra, which seems to suggest he's skilled at traversing the Nether and an experienced combatant to have obtained those wings in the first place. Don't let the remote possibility of epic loot tempt you to fight this one, no matter what you hear about the lava-resistant "Phoenix Armor."

A more obscure rumor claims that he's the artist behind the mysterious painting Birth of Wither, that he was the first to discover how to construct this horrific creature.

There are rumors of other "cryptid" mobs in the Nether, which makes sense given that most visitors just want to get in, get what they came for, then get out again; nobody dawdles in the Nether.

The visibility is low, and fire and lava are everywhere, so it's easy for your eyes to deceive you. Some speak of a "Nether Banished", whose descriptions vary from a Blaze that escaped a fortress and decayed as it got lost in the wilderness, to an unlucky explorer who caught fire but through a very tragically specific combination of enchantments, could never die.

Others think it's just a block of Netherrack on fire combined with an overactive imagination. But you can't confirm a negative...if you should venture into this volcanic wasteland, trapped between two layers of bedrock, remember that the only monsters we know of are the ones people have lived to tell about...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Minecraft Monster Month Part 4: Dungeon Dwellers

If you intend to venture to The End and slay the Ender Dragon, you will almost certainly pass through a Stronghold to get to the portal. Normally these structures are abandoned, containing only the usual monsters, but if you're very unlucky you may cross paths with the master of these underground fortresses...and his servants...

Stronghold Monarch
Yes, those are Villagers in that cage behind him, just in case you weren't convinced from the costume that he's evil.

His origins are a mystery, his motivations a riddle, his identity an enigma. The strongest being in the Overworld, the Monarch is believed to wander the Strongholds and castles that dot the world. There are some who say he is the necromancer responsible for the zombies and skeletal archers who plague the world's caverns and nights on the surface. Perhaps it is for this reason that he wields a unique golden sword called the Holy Sword, specifically strong against the undead, to maintain his dominion over his monstrosities.

How such an evil entity came into possession of such a weapon of goodness is a mystery, but the prospect of reclaiming it gives warriors one more reason to face him in battle. It is rumored he is in possession of other mythical artifacts, like the Hammer of Notch, Obsidian Armor, or unique potions and enchantment books.

Stronghold Seer

Unfortunately, a Monarch is rarely without a court, and this one's court consists of a squad of powerful enchantresses. They are certainly skilled with Splash Potions, and rumor has it they are also competent archers with Tipped Arrows, which makes sense as they would have easy access to The End. As if fighting the Monarch wasn't going to be hard enough...


Who knows what lies behind those iron trapdoors that serve as masks? The sinister guards of the Monarch's domains, they can hear instantly when a door, be it wood or iron, has been opened, and they will seek out the intruder with their axes. Destroying doors just makes them angrier. You can try tunneling through the walls, but you never know what stone bricks might be silverfish eggs.

There exists a common misconception that there is only one Doorman, a random killer who stalks humans and Villagers in the dead of night. This is because, despite their loyalty to the Monarch, once in a blue moon a Doorman might wander off into the surface world by accident; they're not very clever. If they come across a survival base or a village...lured by the sound of doors opening and closing...

Monday, October 9, 2017

Minecraft Monster Month Part 3: Miscellaneous Menaces

There are a variety of unsavory characters who roam the Overworld, griefing anybody they come across in various dastardly ways. The world's a big place, so you may have never met them before or even heard of them, and hopefully you'll never cross paths with them. But it's best you know what you can in case you ever need to be prepared.


We're not really sure if it's a man or a woman under that slimy mask. Either way, this crook somehow knows how to spawn slimes, and they'll swarm you until you're dead.

Cake Maniac

This guy thinks he's a danger, but he's really just a nuisance. He steals cakes. And that's terrible.

Terror Spawner

Long has science known that every mob in the world can be found from an egg. The question of getting those eggs is a different story. Somehow, this scoundrel found a way, and few take the time to wonder why when being swarmed by Creepers and Spiders. Best advice? If you're fortunate enough to spot her from long range, try to snipe her with your best bow before she spots you. If she sees you first...good luck.

Silverfish Monger

The Monger is even more of a coward than the Spawner. By the time you know he's there, it's already too late. Any stone or brick block could have been replaced with a silverfish egg, and the only way to know for sure is to take a pickaxe to every stone block in the area. Be ready with your sword.

What twisted mind decided to craft something like this?! Pig, squid, horse, zombie, skeleton, all combined to form an extremely grumpy patchwork golem. Don't make him angry; he hits pretty hard. But some think he might just be misunderstood. Maybe he just wants a friend? Perhaps, if you can give him something he wants...what's his favorite food?

When you're scraping the bedrock looking for diamonds, you may unearth something you've never seen before, for good or for ill. Just remember not to take your eyes off it!
If you ever bump into this monstrosity, maintain eye contact, and hammer it to death as quickly as possible. This is essential, because every time it wakes up or falls back asleep it regenerates health!

Not quite as terrifying as the Gargoyle, but anybody who's fought silverfish or baby zombies before knows how big a threat a small target can be.

Redstone Zealot
Sooner or later you will discover a dungeon or a temple with traps. At some point you'll probably ask, "Why is this even here?!" Some Overworld archaeologists have found evidence of a society of Redstone Zealots, engineers who lived in an opulent underground city, bringing in wealth by scattering traps all over the place and collecting the inventories of their victims. They could craft machines beyond most crafters' understanding, including unique redstone golems called "Protectors" that guarded their city so they could enjoy their ill-gotten wealth.

Sadly for the Zealots, and luckily for the rest of the world, the traps began to run dry. Adventurers either got smarter, or there just weren't any left. Many traps were sabotaged with TNT. The loot and resources stopped coming in, and the Redstone Zealots had neither the willingness nor the skill to actually work for a living. The situation was exacerbated by the loss or theft of something called the "Infinity Core," though whether this was their object of worship or merely the source of their technology is unclear, nor is it clear whether this has any connection with the fabled "Infinity Dungeon." Either way, the loss of the Core rendered the situation unsalvageable, and with their stolen diamond swords they fell to infighting and their civilization collapsed.

A few, however, are rumored to have survived the fall and escaped, moving to greener pastures and setting up new traps, accompanied only by a squad of Protectors.
So always be wary of tripwires and pressure plates. And if you ever see a Redstone Bug, a creature that seems drawn to the Zealots' complex machines, get ready for a fight with the Protectors.
And maybe, if you survive, you may find a new piece of technology to call your own.


Illagers shake at the mere utterance of the name Enchantro.

Once a humble brewer, everything changed in this man's life when he discovered a Potion of Intelligence. Whether he found a sample in a treasure chest or found the recipe in that massive book he carries on his back, nobody knows. But the potion gave him the ability to craft stronger Potions of Intelligence, which he then drank to make even better potions, and on and on it went until he was able to brew potions the likes of which nobody had ever seen. New recipes, with effects like Displacement, Sinking, Photosynthesis, Leech, and Beheading. Dragon's Breath and Bottles O' Enchanting he could craft without journeying far and wide to acquire the ingredients. He could enchant pickaxes of Silk Touch XVIII, able to retrieve End Gate Frames, monster spawners, and more. Swords that could fell a Wither in one stroke. Infinite possibilities were within his grasp...

...Until the Intelligence Potions wore off, and he was without the ingredients to make more. Or some say he forgot the recipe entirely. Either way, he went mad. His life became a quest to re-acquire that potion and resume feeding his hunger for knowledge and power, questing far and wide, to ruined fortresses, witch villages, and lost temples.

The unfortunate result of all that exploration in the dangerous wilderness is this: he is a very seasoned fighter. Beware his bow and tipped arrows; they will inflict effects never seen before. But if you can best him, you may be able to claim his book.

But the question remains: should you? Can the book be used for good? Can it be used safely? Or should it be destroyed lest you go mad like Enchantro, or worse?