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I have a character that I am currently portraying who is not human, and I would like to increase the obviousness of his non-humanity ( mainly through dialog and actions ).

The character is a Miralukan Jedi Consular, who has traveled the galaxy extensively, in the Old Republic Era. While the Miraluka race is humanoid, it is not fully human, and so must have some sort of unnatural thought process and/or basic motivations that do not 'make sense' to a human.

Any thoughts?

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Within the space opera genre, aliens -- especially the ones the protagonists interact with on friendly terms -- don't necessarily have any inscrutable, non-human thoughts or emotions. I'd say they're more like human beings with fantastical cultures. –  Alex P Jul 16 '12 at 22:37
    
@AlexP True, except for groups that do want to play that differently. :) –  SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '12 at 22:56

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up vote 26 down vote accepted

Differences that arise from different ways of perceiving and interacting with their environment are the easiest things to draw on for alien mindsets. (Harder are psychological, history-influenced sociological differences.) In this case you have an easy point of differences: they have no eyes, and sense their environment entirely via the Force.

Consider what we do with sight. We perceive:

  • Brightness
  • Colour
  • Surface texture
  • Visual patterns
  • Motion (we sense the actual motion, not just changes in location)
  • Environmental particulate (snow, fog, cloud, dust, opaque gasses)
  • Facial expressions
  • Where people are looking
  • Body language
  • Distances
  • Position (via depth perception)
  • Instruments, screens, indicators, and other technology interfaces

So the question is, what are the primary things that someone senses who senses mainly via the Force?

"Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them" — Kenobi

It enhanced the bearer's visual and spatial perception even in the dark or behind walls.

The Miraluka relied on this power constantly to compensate for their physical blindness. They could not perceive colors but could distinguish organics (even dead) and their alignment from the surrounding environment by their characteristic aura. Most objects, including doors and walls, appeared translucent, allowing to see through them. The Miralukas were the most skilled experts of the technique. Thanks to it, their reflexes were strengthened enormously.

So the main things that they perceive are:

  • Spatial position
  • Relation to the Force (auras)
  • Living and dead beings

Secondary things that I might extrapolate are:

  • People's intentions at the moment of action
  • The true structure of objects and some of their interior workings

What does that indicate about their view of the world?

  • It's a very people-centric view. Their dialogue would be almost entirely about the doings, motives, and feelings of people, those being the upper-most part of their experience of reality.

  • In some ways there's very little hidden to them, except by distance. Most of our metaphors about unknowns relate to darkness. For them, unknowns would be expressed through metaphors about being too far away or being unnaturally cloaked from Force sense.

  • They can't perceive colour or brightness. They wouldn't be able to operate graphical interfaces, except maybe by exerting their Force sight to grasp the workings behind the screen and trusting the Force to guide their fingers to do the "right" thing. They might be OK with holograms, since arguably there's some "presence" or "echo of the person" to a hologram, not just light. Their culture probably seems really low-tech to an outsider since there would be no obvious, recognisable computer terminals. Their technology interfaces are likely hard to understand for others – they can see inside things, so they're more likely to put device feedback somewhere inside it, where the stuff is happening, than than bother to displaying feedback on the surface. Buttons don't even need to look like buttons, because the difference between a surface that's connected to doing something and a surface that's just immobile casing is obvious to them.

  • Their social interactions are probably much more like mind reading, since emotions are so obvious to the Force-sensitive. They wouldn't say, "you look angry, what's wrong?", but rather "I feel your anger, and I see that it's misdirected. You are angry with yourself," or something like. They're probably kind of intrusive with other aliens, at least until they learn aliens' sense of tact.

  • They can see through walls. There's no ducking behind a wall to avoid notice, there's no way for people in the same home to have privacy without deliberately "turning away" and thus acknowleging the thing you're not supposed to see. They're probably not shameful about anything at all, what with all the feelings around them being obvious, and being able to sense the bright emotional beacon of your roommates "gettin' it on". Either that, or they're especially rigid about etiquette, with lots of social standards around what is and isn't seen. As a real-world historical reference, the sociology of Japanese paper-walled houses could be informative. (I can't find a link at the moment, though…)

  • They can't see where others are looking. There's probably a bit extra verbiage devoted to indicating what one is attending to in normal dialogue, simply because there's no way for others to tell what your senses are focused on and infer the context of words from that.

  • They can probably sense things that are invisible to light-seeing people. Things like invisible poisonous gas are probably spatially evident just like everything else. Ditto, they'd be able to tell when a space is in vacuum or has air in it. Maybe they'd even be able to sense air pressure.

  • They can't see a long way, unless they're very strong. (Think, "I haven't sensed that presence in a very long time.") Even then, they can't see forever. Their senses depend on how far they can extend from themselves, while light-seeing beings depend on how strong the light is. So, they can't see stars, except maybe as a very distant huge mass of existence way out there. A nice view is lost on them.

  • What does art look like when you don't look at art? Their plays are probably incredibly sophisticated, and lost on anyone who can't sense emotions. They probably sing. They're probably very good – potentially – at controlling their emotions, since it's an effective communication medium. They're probably as good at it as we are with body language – that is, most humans suck at "speaking" body language deliberately except for the most broad statements (like, "I don't like you"), while some few people can become very adept at controlling what their body language expresses.

Build some stock phrases or metaphors out of this. Have in mind how they'd talk about unexpected events, like an assassin intent on a killing sneaking into a dark apartment – they're going to perceive that very differently than their light-dependent companions. Build up a few scenarios in your mind that highlight these differences in worldview, and which are likely sorts of things to happen in a roleplaying game, and you'll have a lot of pieces from which to improvise during play.

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+1 for an excellent start point. SSD, your answers are always expansive and thoughtful. How do you do it? –  Phill.Zitt Jul 16 '12 at 23:21
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IIRC strong emotions will leave a mark in the Force (like that one cave where Luke thought he saw Vader), and I wouldn't be surprised if force sensitives can choose to impress emotions into objects and areas. As experienced by humans, their art is probably things like "holding this stick makes you feel a faint sense of regret, tinged with overtones of resentment and a faint waft of baby diaper". –  Tacroy Jul 16 '12 at 23:26
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@Phill.Zitt I skip all the questions where inspiration is failing to strike. :-) (Also this sort of question is where a degree partially in philosophy of the mind comes in very handy!) –  SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '12 at 23:26
    
@Tacroy I'm upvoting that comment so hard, but it's still only letting me do it once! D: –  SevenSidedDie Jul 16 '12 at 23:28
    
@SevenSidedDie baby diaper is a snob's universal constant :) –  Tacroy Jul 16 '12 at 23:32

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