Oceans, The Final Frontier: Aquatic Inspiration for Science Fiction, Part 2

Since the start of the 21st Century, I’ve come across numerous articles, photos, forum posts, and websites offering glimpses into actual or imagined futures. From the Blue Planet RPG Yahoo Group, to Facebook and other social media, it’s relatively easy these days to see cool new images to inspire your imagination. But rarely is it collected in one place. In the Final Frontier series, you will find a wide range of links and images, including RPG supplements, videos, articles on marine science, maps, real-world builds and concept sketches for sea-worthy vehicles, buildings, research stations, and even cities. Anything and everything I can find that has inspired me in my science fiction games will end up here.

So sit back and enjoy a glimpse into our own planet’s Final Frontier.

This week’s Final Frontier focuses on scientific discoveries, theoretical research projects, and inspiringly bizarre phenomena.


Dolphins Call each other by Name

Research involving bioacoustics and communication go back as far as the 1970s, but this relatively recent article discusses the theory that marine mammals that use echolocation and/or who sing appear to have individual “signature codas” or names.

“A dolphin emits its signature whistle to broadcast its identity and announce its presence, allowing animals to identify one another over large distances and for animals to recognize one another and to join up with each other,” (Stephanie) King explained. “Dolphin whistles can be detected up to 20 km away (12.4 miles) depending on water depth and whistle frequency.”

Not a huge leap for a science fiction game, but I had the honor of working on cognition research projects through Long Marine Laboratory back in my UC Santa Cruz days, and the incredible evidence for syntax structure and problem solving blows my mind even now. Understanding that this level of communication is in no way restricted to human beings helps bring a foundation to your imaginary settings.



The recent discovery of an enormous amount of submerged rare earth minerals is reflective of some science fiction settings, like Biohazard Games’ Blue Planet RPG. On the world of Poseidon, settlers are in the midst of a “gold rush” where the poor mine a xenosilicate called Long John. This alien mineral, when used in conjunction with medical procedures that manipulate DNA, make near-immortality and severe genetic alterations possible. Needless to say, the rich want to live forever and will pay pirates, smugglers, claim jumpers, and honest miners to get it.


High Tech Water Breathing

A number of Wiki articles and theoretical papers discuss various ways that artificial red blood cells, called respirocytes can be used to increase oxygen efficiency in humans, as well as the concepts and challenges behind artificial gill technology.


Blood Substitutes

Artificial Gills


The Strange becoming the Confirmed

From long before the “milky sea” phenomena noted in Jules Verne’s classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, mariners have noted vast areas of ocean that glow. We’re not talking about the trail of bioluminescence behind a sailing ship, but 150+ mile swaths of bright light. Easily ignored as salty sea dog tales, this particular phenomena has since been caught on satellite.

Several theories have been offered but each opens a new set of questions. This level of mystery could draw space-based researchers, intrigue native populations, or predict the coming of an ecological disaster.



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Rich Howard's obsession with gaming started 35 years ago when his older brother finally let him invade his AD&D game. Since his first sleep spell, Rich has wandered the world of roleplaying, board and computer games as fascinated with their potential to teach and inspire as to entertain.