Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sand People - WTF?

 Obviously I don't care about any official answer here.  I'm fishing for ideas.  Simple economy of storytelling would dictate that Sand People are a human ethnic group and that crap on their heads is some sort of deep desert gear.  Basically they're the same guys as in Dune, with robes over their stilsuits.  But what other options are available?  Could that lovable mug be their actual faces, with their skin looking like bandages?  Could they be cybernetic desert nomads, and that face hardware is a set of implants?  Are they a race of mummies, based out of some astro-pyramid hidden in the endless sands of Tatooine? (I've often suspected the bounty hunter Dengar of being some sort of armored space mummy.  Maybe he's Tusken by birth.)  When you were a kid, what were your thoughts on these guys?
One of the best figures from the early years.  Sweet cape, pummeling implement, and lots of character.  And everybody is cooler with a bandolier/utility belt combo.


  1. Hideously scarred mutant humans, probably the survivors of the original (and now long-forgotten) attempt to colonize the planet, who've degenerated into vicious, cyborg cannibals, of course.

  2. Humanoid aliens, native to Tatooine. They evolved underground, and their giant eyes can't deal with the harsh light of Tatooine's day, which is why they have those weird goggles.

    The moisture farms have largely rendered their native tunnels uninhabitable, so many have moved to the surface.

  3. Anonymous10:46 AM

    When we first got the d6 Star Wars RPG from WEG, we made up that the "Weequay" skiff guards from Jabba's palace were what Tusken Raiders looked like under their masks. The heavy wrinkles on the Weequay face even suggest the outlines of some Tusken mask features like the breather. I still like that idea, even though the "canon" says otherwise. If it came up in a game I might still go that route today.

    But if you're ignoring stuff from the later movies that won't cut it for you. If I had to guess what was originally intended, well, I think it is just a type of desert human.

    On a related note, does anyone else remember the earliest Star Wars materials mentioning that the Jawa faces are black because they are so filthy that there are bugs and vermin living inside their hoods, covering the face?

  4. Anonymous10:48 AM

    They bandage their faces to protect their flesh from the sandstorms, which being SPACE SAND is a lot more dangerous than plain ole sand. Unless you're human, thenit's just a bit of a nuisiance.

    That or their entire body is a mess off raw flesh and sores, hence the bandages.

  5. Not human at all. Tattooine native desert-guys, all leathery and hideously strong, wrapped up to protect themselves from the sun. The eyepieces were goggles, but the respirators were implanted (maybe to breathe sand? maybe they could move through sand like we do through air?). I imagined that their little horns were organic, not mechanical or decorative.

  6. I always thought they were non-human natives of Tatooine. But I REALLY like Trollsmyth's answer.

  7. Sand people are thought to be natives of Tatooine but in reality they are descendants of survivors of a massive starship wreck several millenia old. Some sandpeople legends claim the majority of the craft is still intact and buried somewhere in the sands.

  8. They were *sand* people - made totally out of sand. Duh! The bandages and wrappings just hold it all together. ;^]

    BTW, when they first appeared in front of Luke, while he was dorking around with his *viewmaster*... as a young twerp, I nearly crapped myself.

  9. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Native humanoids, similar to Amerindians. Their hidden oasis ruined by the offworld human moisture farmers.

    Their garb is to protect them from prolonged exposure in the harsh sandstorms. They live primarily underground (part of the reason they developed their trademark "single-file" march due to the narrow and constricting passageways leading to the surface. Water was their chief bartering method. Now, they are forced to scavenge now for tech and metals for trade with the Jawas.

    What do we know from SW?

    Scavenge for metal & equipment (although lacking the skill/ability to just jump in & steal a landspeeder)

    Not entirely bloodthirsty (or else Luke would have never made it offworld).

    They tame Banthas as mounts

    Travel in single file to hide their numbers

    Have never attacked vessel as large as a Jawa Sandcrawler

    Gutteral spoken language

    Fearful of Krayt Dragons (and old men waving their arms)

  10. They are just tall jawas.

  11. They are an aboriginal people (whether native or stranded by an ancient ship wreck is lost in time) whose ritual for adulthood is surviving a sandstorm without protection. The subsequent scars never truly heal — thus the necessity for the bandages, goggles and breathers. It also explains why they have such bad tempers.

  12. I always thought of them as a native human race. I played one in an old Star Wars D6 game. he was called Harney Roogar, and he was convinced that sand was the most valuable resource in the universe, so travelled around the galaxy trying to sell it, with mixed results, usually involving storm troopers and jump packs.

    Now I'm no longer nearly as sensible as I once was, I can clearly see that they are droids, BUT THEY THEMSELVES DON"T KNOW IT.

    Of course, the females and children killed by Broody Anakin sort of get in the way of that, but I'm ignoring those films for reasons of taste.

  13. As a kid, I thought that was their face--that the mask was literally part of their flesh.

    As a grown up, I kinda like the ambiguity. For one of my side projects I created the Bando, who are similar to the Tuskens.

    I have some ideas about what they look like under their flesh, but I've not crystallized it since I dig not being sure yet.

  14. Anonymous12:10 PM

    Grim said...
    They are just tall jawas.

    Just as wookies are tall ewoks. It was Lucas' plan to always have all races represented like this. Wait until the next set of film remakes and we'll see Yoda's taller cousins, the Adoy!

    Wow! Lucas has a real gift for different alien names, eh?

  15. What if sand people were out of control droids who wrapped themselves up to keep the deep deserts from damaging their delicate components. Pull off their wrappings and they're all IG88 under there.

  16. Riffing off Grim, I like the idea of scrawny little jawas, sicked of being picked on, going through some kind of Charles Atlas-like program. That will teach you Skywalker to kick sand in our face, Boo-yah.

  17. Anonymous12:58 PM

    Using trollsmyth's original hypothesis of the raiders being survivors of the original attempt at colonizing Tattooine, they could have been the slave labor forces used by some larger plantary power.

    They arrived on Tattooine, rose up against their overlords and live out their nomadic existence in the wastelands. They've degenerated to a lack of technology and its uses, but they need scraps of it to keep their existing pieces working.

  18. They are clowns exiled from earth for crimes against humor. The bandages protect their makeup.

  19. Maybe this is the ancient craft that brought the proto-Tusken to Tatooine?

    I had a friend who thought that Jawas and Ewoks were the same species, since he couldn't tell their languages apart. I also note that Jawas appear to have furry hands, but that's circumstantial at best.

  20. You know, I never really thought about it. I just figured they were some people, alien or human, that lived in the sand...

  21. Maybe they're a failed, early version of the clones from the Clone Wars.

  22. Person2:48 PM

    Each Tusken consists of a Jawa on stilts, with another Jawa on its shoulders operating the arm extensions.

  23. @anarchist, ooo, I like that. Adding cybernetic implants to make up for their undeveloped sensory organs and lungs (hence the guttural speak).

    Then maybe those "horns" are actually psionic antennas they use to communicate without detection...

  24. I always wanted to see Rasta Wookies with full body dreadlocks.

  25. Our idea, long before any info arrived on the 'Sand People', strangely coincided with some of the offical (or semi-official) data that came later, though I'm not sure if a final answer was ever given.

    Tatooine's native people are the Jawas. The 'Sand People' are the now barbaric survivors of the first attempt by Humans to colonize the planet.

    Their generation ship crashed and they eventually devolved in their current state. A mixture of their original culture, their loss of technological skill and understanding and the thought patterns needed to exist on this barren and unforgiving world resulted in the beings you see today.

    The term 'Tusken Raider' in some expanded universe material, comes from their attacks on a site called Fort Tusken. In my original concept for them 'Tuskens' were the new colonists original name for the Banthas. The word Bantha is the Jawa name for the creature.

  26. Nick (the imaginor)4:44 PM

    Long ago Tatooine was a paradise, but some unknown disaster turned the planet to desert and wiped out the native sentient species. Now all that remains are the sand people, the self replicating droids who served that (now dead) species.

    They keep themselves covered (as BigFella mentioned) to keep the sand out of their delicate components, and moving parts. They fend for themselves, raiding for components and "food" such as batteries or organics that they are able to process into energy. However, their programming prevents them from intentionally killing (but not harming) sentient creatures. They would have supplemented their own programming over the years though, to run away at the first signs of real danger so that an individuals components are less likely to get damaged or lost. Those who know the triggers might be able to pull off a trick like Old Bed's "Dragon" to scare them off.

    It's rumored that more can be found in the underground cities and complexes under the sands.

    Yes? No? I'm not sure that all fits in with the movie though, I should go rewatch it.

    Still, it would give you an excuse to build some dungeons inside SW if nothing else. Plus, you'd have a nonlethal enemy to slap the PC's around with... because what would surprise your players more than a NON-lethal enemy? :P

  27. @kelvingreen
    Apologies, sir. I skimmed over your post without realizing you'd already made the droid hypothesis.

  28. Dude, if The Phantom Crap-in-a-hat did ANYTHING worthy, it was portraying Sand People as stupid desert-planet rednecks with a thing for shootin' at space-NASCAR.

  29. The sand people attack noise (rebel yell??) always disturbed me--something vaguely porcine about it.

  30. I was neutral on the subject. They sure didn't sound like a human subgroup. But then came the Cantina scene, and that settled it for me: Sandpeople ain't human. Not in that universe where the bad guys were either weird-ass aliens or mincing faux-Nivens in quasi-Nazi uniforms.

  31. I just want to say that that is one cool action figure, and if we were kids I'd insist it had to be in any game we played in the sandbox, even over the gross cantina bully dudes. ...Man, Action Luke would be getting his oddly cast head bashed in over and over......

  32. I took 'tusken' to mean they have tusks under the respirator. Just space orcs. But then I thought the blue meanies in the Yellow Submarine were orcs too.

  33. When I was a kid I pictured them as just humans with garb designed for desert survival ... anti-glare goggles and whatnot.

    I _did_ wonder, culturally, how they related to the others on Tatooine, if they were escaped criminals or others forced out into the wastes. I think I had a vague impression that they were unsavories who had "gone wild" a bit, what with the hooting and honking and carrying on, living second- or third-generation from some original band of exiles or unwanteds.

  34. Jon H3:23 AM

    Dammit, this post sent me off to reading a star wars wiki for like four, five hours. And I don't CARE about this stuff... all the different TIE fighters, all the different AT-AT variants. All the different alien types who were at Jabba's palace.


  35. Jon H3:33 AM

    Tusken Raiders? Tatooine Steampunk. It's like 21st century Americans walking around wearing velvet and gears.

    Stormcrow wrote: "Wow! Lucas has a real gift for different alien names, eh?"

    There seem to be at least three planets named (something)tooine. Tatooine, Dantooine, and one other.

  36. BigFella, great minds and all that. No problem.

    Rotwang, PhD indeed, that was perhaps the best/only good thing about that film. However, "desert redneck" is a career choice, and there's nothing stopping a droid, failed clone, jawa-on-stilts, etc, etc making that choice, so it's all compatible.

  37. I just wanted to say that this comment thread is full of win.

  38. Monsters. As a kid, it never occurred to me that the sand people were a culture of any kind, with home villages, mealtimes around the table and little sandlings running about. No, they were unnatural beasts who's only aspiration and action was destruction of all they encountered. Everytime they show up in the film, they're tearing machines apart, howling in murderous rage and ripping arms off (they scared the hell out of me as a kid). They're the mad, hateful destructiveness of the vast desert given form. I used to imagine that if you managed to kill one and start peeling its bandages away, all you'd find are deeper layers of older, more putrid bandages. If you dared keep unwrapping, at the core you'd find a wrinkled tar-black quivering lump of fist-sized ancient stinking desicated flesh, which would wriggle its way from its ruined nest to burrow back into the rasping sands it spawned from millenia ago.

  39. Sand People are a mad cult. They are not a single race, but are made up of many individuals from different alien species.

    They worship the desert itself, Tattoine having a weird effect on the minds of some people who settle there. One night they just wake up from a strange dream and wander off into the dunes. They find the other sand people waiting for them.

    They want the desert to spread and they work to destroy anything that is not desert - be it forest, city or whatever. If they manage to get to another planet they will begin spreading the holy desert there as well.

  40. Sand people are a race of humanoid aliens native to Tatooine. Tusken Raiders are the worst criminals, sociopaths, and scum; banished to the desert by their society/tribes.