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Meet the Krodox! We've seen a couple of these hunchbacked space reptilians before. Superficially crocodilian, they are a remarkable case of evolutionary convergence. It appears they are remote descendants of Earth's labyrinthodont amphibians; while it can't be proven, the time period makes it likely the Second Martian Empire spread Carboniferous Earth life onto other planets during their colonial expansion.
It's not easy to imagine how ambush predators evolved to fill a primate-like niche in the muggy mangrove swamps of their homeworld, and even harder to deduce how the knuckle-dragging scaly brutes developed intelligence and a society, let alone advanced technology. But here we are!
Khurasan's 15-mm Garn make excellent juveniles and young adults. These are little fellows! I added some hunchbacks to their necks with Green Stuff.
Living as they do on a metals-poor, mud-rich world interlaced with deltas and fjords, the Krodox have developed ceramics and hydraulics to a remarkable degree.
Their psychology is hard for humans and uplifted apes to understand; patience followed by sudden action is a survival instinct for them in the way curiosity is for us. (Krodox are sought-after astrogation lookouts for this reason; they simply don't get bored with waiting the way we do.) Meditative contemplation and furious application during times of opportunity is how they developed hydraulic computers to the level of Wisdom Engines while we were still swinging in trees--and also why they were relying on those same Wisdom Engines while we developed spaceflight.
Their society is a semi-feudal gigantocracy: Krodox respect Bigness as superior access to meat and therefore as right to rule. But dissatisfied subjects will overthrow a greedy ruler if the ruler lets their constituents go hungry. The election process is somewhere between democracy and a pro wrestling championship, and the recall process (as with many criminal convictions) involves ritual cannibalism. It's not a perfect system by a long shot, but natural and political selection means their supply chain logistics are second to none.
Speaking of Krodox jurisprudence, grievous bodily harm and mayhem are seen as regrettable misdemeanors, but denying someone food or access to running water is a Very Serious Crime Indeed. Being found guilty of mislabeling or adulterating foodstuffs, though, is the worst possible transgression, a Crime Against Krodoxianity. While there is no Krodox Emperor or Pope (no one is huge enough to command THAT much respect), all the clans and tribes acknowledge the authority of the Truth Tasters. The society is somewhere between the EPA, the FDA, the FBI, the UN, and the Inquisition.
Being armor-plated half-ton monsters with jaws like bear traps, the Krodox might be expected to be ferocious fighters--and this is true on the individual level. They make fantastic mercenaries and shock troopers. Their instinctive deference to hugeness and hunger/risk/reward calculus means they never did get the hang of organized warfare, though. Hostilities can only persist if two generals are of similar bulk and can feed their troops; and if the odds of death seem greater than the odds of a full belly, a Krodox will desert. It is...difficult to beat a Krodox into submission without impairing their usefulness as a soldier.
This disorganization and stubbornness is why the Krodox world has been conquered by stellar empire after empire, and abandoned again and again as local prelates, satraps, and bureaucrats wind up getting devoured, sometimes ritually and sometimes just on impulse.
Oddly enough, they get along just fine with the frail, pencil-necked intellectual Martians, sharing a great reverence for and obsession with canals. The flowing river is the core concept of Krodox philosophy, religion, medicine, and economics, and no one knows canals and aqueducts like the architects of Mars. (They also enjoy the steaming estuaries and giant beasts of Venus, and maintain a small colony/resort near the south pole, where the temperatures and invasive mold spores are manageable.)
They don't think much of Earth culture, with the exception of opera, as bellowing while brandishing weapons resonates deeply in their culture.
The current Earth Ambassador to the Krodox (after the regrettable devourment of several human Diplomatic Corps members) is a 600-pound uplifted gorilla. He has secured several trade deals and is a beloved celebrity.
All Martians have psionic powers to some extent, for telepathic communication at the very least. A few possess talents far beyond the Martian norm. Undisciplined use of these powers could cause disruptions to the usually orderly Martian society, but a species learns a thing or two over the course of a million years. A rigorous program of focus, meditation, and training out in the Crystal Wastes will hone those wild talents to a suite of keen, well-directed tools.
This fellow, from CP Miniatures (Sci-fi, Non-Commissioned, Alien Sensei) is one such psionic anchorite, learning proper and responsible use of telekinesis, remote viewing, illusion, and mental manipulation.
Please do not call them a "space wizard" even though it seems quite accurate by Earth standards; the Martian academicians insist it is very different altogether from space wizardry and very disrespectful to confuse the two.
The nuances of the distinction are lost on Earthlings, but then so very few of us have psionic talent in the first place.
Here's the Anchorite with a few other Martians, including 50197, whose paintjob got a touch-up.
Keep watching the skies, cadets!
The Frost Salamander from Nolzur's has a wonderful chunky head and heavy-jawed face, and that won me over. It also has six legs, so not your average Earthly amphibian. Good thing there's always room for planetary monsters! And it's a great canvas for patterns; salamanders are often brightly spotted or striped. Let's make him a denizen of the steaming swamps of Retro-Venus!
Bombshell makes some amazing sci-fi ladies and this is one such! I took some liberties with my interpretation as a Venerian Amazon--the sculpt indicates that Wanda here is wearing leggings or tight pants rather than the singlet I painted, but her headgear, belt, and boots fit very nicely with Hydra's Valkeeri sculpts.
Let's put the two together!
Why does a huge predator need vivid warning coloration? Well, on Retro-Venus, there's always another, bigger predator.
I *do* love putting bright colors on weird beasties. Hope you enjoy!
Once more we return to the hallowed halls of Miskatonic University, this time to the research laboratories, where keen and possibly unhinged minds push the boundaries of interdisciplinary knowledge!
Helen Salinger here (dark hair, clipboard) is one of the keenest. Whether it's fauna mutated by exposure to colors out of space, or crystals growing at hypergeometrical angles, she's on the job.
(Colleagues have been seen before under the Miskatonic tag, but I gave them a touch-up recently so these are Better Pictures.)
Jessica in the long coat is from Brigade Games, while the tousled fellow with the tentacled horror is from Crooked Dice. The commanding lady in the pink skirt is from Black Cat.
Bonus! Updated pics of Laura Pringle, 50052;
and chemists Friedman (50046) and Froschmeister (50061), with updated chemiluminescent glows. (Glowing means science, and the glowyier something is, the more science it is, as we all know).
Here's our brave Science Department, ever progressing towards truth (madness). Sometimes to make an omelette you have to TRANSGRESS a few BOUNDARIES! You'll show them, you'll show the ALL!
Also here: a Zombiesmith scientist, Reaper's Mad Scientist 59014, and Psychologist 80066.
Retrofuture Mars is a cold world, a dry, harsh world--but not quite a dead world, yet. Survival is tough, and most of the remaining fauna is gaunt and quick.
The Martian Ravener has an ecological niche approaching that of our Earth coyote or tiger. Here, one stalks a pelgrane.
It must be stealthy, for the pelgrane is easily startled and can fly.
A pounce, and a clean kill! The ravener will first drain the corpse of precious liquids before consuming it, bones and all.
This meal will last it for Earth-months to come.
The Ravener is not a tool-user, but it is cunning, and has been known to mimic the calls of other species, and even Martian words, to lure prey closer.
Humans were surprised to find that such a predator in a resource-scarce world would need--and could afford--horns!
The Martians could have told them, but the Weinbaum expedition found out on their own.
Weinbaum's Cloaker! (the Martian name cannot be properly pronounced without the telepathic emphasis).
A flying apex predator that haunts sandstorms and windswept canyons.
Ingenious countershading means it appears like the dark, starry sky from below, and a cratered field from above.
Martian children, sporelings, and buds are taught from early age to watch for sourceless shadows.
Humans and their Space Ape pals are learning the same lesson!
The Ravener is a Hound of Tindalos, 50289 with the head removed and swapped out for a GW demon skull and Ork mandible from their Skullz box, glued onto a neck made out of sprue. That body is lean and athirst all right, perfect for Mars!