Sunday, April 11, 2021

Two Non-Sentient Species of the Homo Genus

One of the facts about reality that I find weirdest is that 1) homo sapiens sapiens are the only members of the homo genus, and 2) this has only been true for a relatively short amount of time. 

Also, despite being pretty gung ho about Star Trek forehead ridge aliens or elves/dwarves/etc., the idea of seeing something that looks human but isn't triggers my fight or flight response. I get upset

In that spirit, here are two upsetting creatures to place into your games. Natural philosophers characterize them as being human-adjacent, but in no way are they homo sapiens. This is because they are not sapient

From The Sword of Glass by Sylviane Corgiat


Gigas are quadrupedal non-sapient humanoids. They run sorta like people who participate in pony play. They cannot easily stand on their back legs so you measure them to their shoulder. On average, they reach about 19 hands high. 

Despite their size, gigas are quite skittish. They flee from most perceived threats, although the males can be territorial during mating season. When threatened, they can be enormously dangerous. They have muscle mass like an orangutan. Their bite carries poisonous bacteria. 

Gigas are herbivorous and subsist mostly on grasses. Herds of gigas roam in temperate plains biomes. 

Gigas have been domesticated by gnolls, who train them to act as warhorses. 


From Basileus by Andrew Whyte

Nginikin are non-sapient humanoids the size of action figures. They fill the same ecological niche as rats. They infest ships and are inadvertently introduced to new ecologies, which they proceed to devastate. Everybody hates them. 

Nginikin are omnivorous. Like goats, they can eat almost everything. They reproduce extraordinarily quickly and are frequently seen as symbols of fertility. As such, they are the primary ingredients for a variety of aphrodisiacs and fertility potions. 

Most upsettingly, they have the capacity for mimicry. Though about as intelligent as rabbits, they can recreate the sounds of human language. Many people are tortured by the squeaks of "Howre uu dooin" coming from their crawlspaces. 


  1. Something about the Uncanny Valley implying that it was once evolutionarily useful to be suspicious of/repelled by things that look almost human.

    Dougal Dixon's Man After Man has got a whole bunch of these sort-of-humans.

    1. "Man After Man" is great stuff. And apparently I need to add "Sword of Glass" to my read list?

      I feel like any setting that includes adaptive radiation of humans into multiple new species implies a) a decline in intercultural communication so severe that speciation is possible like the class divide hardening into the Morlock and Eloi species; b) probably a severe loss of biodiversity that opens up new niches for humans to fill; and c) some kind of lack of moral prohibitions against causing speciation or permitting it to happen.

      "Man After Man" does all that, with humans arriving alone on a big alien world with no other animals to help repopulate the biosphere. They grow apart both as they move to distinct habitats, and as they stop recognizing one another's shared humanity.

      "First Men on the Moon" arguably depicts the Selenites as arriving from elsewhere and having to bioengineer themselves to create a functioning ecology. (Yes, I think the Moon Calves are Selenites.)

      "A Mote in God's Eye" shows us a world where the dominant genus has so thoroughly devastated their own ecosystem that they've both evolved and deliberately bred themselves into a number of distinct species filling various niches.

      And of course Jack Vance's "Dragon Masters" shows humans and aliens pulling this trick on each other, breeding their captives into war-animals.

  2. "Gigas have been domesticated by gnolls, who train them to act as warhorses."

    Bad. Bad. This is bad. Why are the images in my head. Why was language invented? Just to make me suffer??

  3. "Your mother/father was a gigas" would probably be a common insult. Since there is some degree of plausibility to it and a huge degree of discomfort from the implication.