Friday, August 13, 2010

Do dralasites smell like poo?

A few quotes from the canonical information on Dralasites linked from

The internal structure of a Dralasite is very different from the other races. The Dralasite's central nerve bundle (brain), numerous small hearts and other internal organs float in a pudding-like mixture of protein and organic fluids. Dralasites breathe by absorbing oxygen directly through their skin, so they have no lungs. They are omnivores, but eat by surrounding their food and absorbing it, so they also have no digestive tract or intestines.
The most important sense for a Dralasite is smell. They breathe directly through their skin, and the entire membrane is sensitive to odors. Their sense of smell is so keen they can identify persons by smell alone and can recognize familiar smells on objects or persons. The membrane also is sensitive to touch and to vibrations, allowing Dralasites to hear and feel.
Steam baths are another favorite Dralasite recreation. They mix perfumes and intoxicants with the steam. These effect Dralasites the same way alcohol does a Human or Yazirian.
Dralasites do not normally wear clothing, because it makes breathing difficult and interferes with their sense of smell. They usually carry their equipment on web belts. When they must wear clothing to protect themselves, they use special materials that let air reach their skin.

As kids my group couldn't believe that dralasites had such superefficient metabolisms that they never produced waste material. But they don't have intestines, either. So we assumed that drals basically sweat away all waste material. Therefore dralasites obviously smell like crap but don't notice it. Which is hilarious considering how big a deal their culture makes of smells.  Imagine first contact with these guys.  The dralasites are getting high off all the interesting new human-based smells, while the humans are doing their best not to retch because their new alien friends all smell like open latrines in mid summer.

Or maybe they just don't have the psychological hang-up most humans have about the smell of poop.  Maybe dralasite casual conversation usually starts out with something like "Hey, Bob! *sniff* Eggs for breakfast again?"

Someone please tell the mean man why I don't smell like poop.


  1. They don't have digestive tracts or intestines, but they do have internal organs. Some of these could be concerned with processing wastes, which they could then expel in an appropriate form... perhaps even sealed in a membrane so as to eliminate undesirable odors.

  2. Perhaps they don't smell like poop at all? The odor in poo comes primarily from bacteria. Poo has a long time to sit and grow ripe in our intestines. Without a similar physiology, I imagine that the Drals smell just fine.

    Great shout out to Star Frontiers, though. I used to have a lot of fun with that game and am convinced I could do so again.

  3. I came to say what Christian said.

    *shakes fist* Damn you, Christian!

  4. Stuart beat me to it. If they eat like amoebas, they likely poop like amoebas -- by opening a vacuole and ejecting the undesirable material.

    Admittedly, this begs the question of what a Dralasite restroom may look like, but it would certainly not be as odd to human eyes as a Vrusk or Sathar comfort station...

  5. I think what everyone here is saying in a roundabout way, Jeff, is that he who smelt it is he who delt it.

  6. Interestingly, I am tweaking them for use in a different space opera game and made "foul smell" a side effect of their shape-changing.

    Demented minds think alike, apparently.

  7. So if Christian is correct, then Dralasites smell more like dry compost? A faint earthy smell and that's about it.

  8. I'd assume if Stuart and/or I were correct, they'd smell fairly neutral... or perhaps pretty good, if they're so wild about perfumes.

    Of course, one species' perfume is another species' diuretic.

  9. John Stephens6:24 PM

    Presumably they smell like what they ate. Of course, if they don't wash often enough, they'd get a rotting garbage effect. So a Dralasite restroom probably has shower stalls, or an open bay if they lack a nudity taboo.

  10. Perhaps the phrase for Dralasites is "He who sensed it, dispensed it".

  11. Anonymous7:58 PM

    Star Frontiers was my very first RPG. I love it so. It needs some revivaling! I loved the alien races; not the standard loadout every single game has now (big beefy hairy guy, Grey, evil bug alien, etc.).

  12. Way back when, when Star Frontiers was a thing, our campaign featured the Dralasite spacer, Blob Dylan.
    True story!

  13. "he who sensed it, dispensed it"

  14. @ John Stephens
    I kinda think an amorphous anatomy without discernable naughty bits would preclude a nudity taboo...

    Probably the closest a Dralasite would come to a concept like that would be a taboo against the equivalent of obscene gestures. It's not about covering your naughty bits so much as not creating naughty bits out of your amorphous mass.

    "Don't you make an @$$ at me, you jerk!"

  15. I imagine dralasites would smell like a slime mold, whatever those smell like.

    An alternative biology for dralasites that might be interesting would be that rather than being a big amoeboid, that they're actually giant group-mind colonies of microscopic amoebas, like an ambulatory, intelligent slime mold.

  16. Jon H1:00 AM

    "I kinda think an amorphous anatomy without discernable naughty bits would preclude a nudity taboo..."

    Don't dralasites bud asexually?

    Naughty bits would thus be surplus to requirements.

  17. Actually, I prefer the them to stink. That's just so much more...crazy, don't you think?

    Even if they don't have intestines, maybe they DO have bacteria in their system that aids in digestion. Maybe even stronger and fouler smell-producing bacteria? Why not? Role-playing games don't always have to be about shooting guys with lasers, right? Maybe there can be something about bridging the gaps in inter-species diplomacy issues?
    : )

  18. Evolutionarily, I think that faeces' bad smell is a signal not to eat it.

    Since our ancestors didn't encounter their faeces, it would have had no effect on our evolution. So I think this means it would only smell bad to us by coincidence ie if it happened to be made up of similar material to something our ancestors did encounter a lot, and was unhealthy for us to eat.

  19. Anonymous10:48 AM

    @mxyzplk: Re: revivaling-- check out and, where there is a webzine for this old chestnut.

  20. Anonymous10:32 PM

    Re: my last, I meant to add the forum at, as well.

  21. @ Jon H
    I concur with your assessment, sir.

    As asexual budding organisms, the very idea of naughty bits would be completely alien to them.

    Conversely, if they did have such a concept, their whole body could be considered as a naughty bit, which would result in a *seriously* hung up dralasite...

    Sounds more like a Dalek, actually.
    Don't look inside the angry mobile dustbin, an embarrassed Dalek is a dangerous thing.

  22. Dralasites most likely have a mechanism for not smelling awful because otherwise much earlier in their evolutionary history, their waste excretion process would have made them an easy target for tracking. Of course, hiding your poo (as earth animals do) is only one alternative. They could also breed so fast that no predator can eliminate them all, or be poisonous from the the free-floating waste in their body. (although, given their coloration, it's unlikely that they're poisonous since poisonous creatures often have bright coloration to alert predators to their dangerous nature).

    However, there's also the consideration that many other earth animals use their poo as marking, either by scent or by leaving it in piles. Given the Dralasite olfactory senses and love of scents, it's very likely that in their early history, they used their waste for marking their territory, and that their first art was probably elaborate forms of these territory markers, which may make a visit to a Dralasite art gallery a very interesting prospect.

    Thus, we can assume that if Dralasite do smell foul, they also have some other offsetting defense system such as a fast reproductive rate, and we also get a glimpse into the Dralasite culture.

  23. My dralasite PC smells like Paco Raban for dralasites because he appreciates quality over quantity like the garbage cologne PGC sells throughout the Frontier. What everyone has overlooked is the dralasite love of corny jokes and even practical jokes and you just know things get out of hand in a crowded shuttle with a race of jokers who are effectively walking whoopie cushions!

  24. Anonymous7:10 PM

    Except that an evolutionary mechanism might be considered more trouble than discouraging by the same awful odor of rotting flesh of carrion... most predators have an instinct to avoid such smells and that would have worked as a hold through from even much earlier in their evolutionary history. Their waste excretion process would have made them an undesirable target for tracking at first, and resulted in its own toxic suprise as time went on and the festering soups of decomposing organic matter kept in the mouth pockets of the running pre-civilized Dral became more virulent to other organisms that attempted to eat them, kind of like roaches, they are plague carriers within their own biosphere but immune to most of the same toxic rot and bacteria they carry.

    However, there's also the consideration that many other earth animals use all kinds of excreted waste products and glandular scent productions for a wide variety of things, including communication. Given the Dralasite olfactory senses and love of scents, it's very likely that in their early history, they used their odors for giving group ambiance in a song of wafting odors.

    Thus, we can assume that if Dralasite do smell foul, they also have some other offsetting odorous glands such that as has been pointed out only really severely offends the sensitive Noses of the Yazirians and Antenae of the Vrusk to any great extremes, humans can mostly find it colorable for some time when it is not at it's worst, and natural Dralasite ambiance is almost something the average Dral can tune out as "background" noise.

  25. Anonymous7:31 PM

    As steam baths are another favorite Dralasite recreation... I would conjecture a connection that as civilized beings they excrete their foul smelling viscous bacterial soup wastes into the waters that are hinted with such pleasant odors and nutritional supplements, thus eating in the same bath they poo in... and letting it all go down the drain, or out to a garden.

    What is more unusual and disturbingly alien here is not only hasps the poo of a Dralasite unlikely to have evolved along with the noses of any of the other races, but the poo of other races is likely to be full of ... yummy leftovers still waiting to be absorbed by the indiscriminate drawl, without much fear of contamination from bacterial diseases.