Alt-StarCraft ideas and discussion thread

Level 2
Aug 29, 2019
Or heck, spin up a Discord/website dedicated to creating & promulgating (whether on paper or in reality (with modding)) an "Alt-StarCraft" that features all the stuff you love & wanted StarCraft to be. I literally know a group of people doing exactly that with Warcraft 3, and it's kinda cool.

I decided to take your advice and make this thread. Here I will share my ideas for an Alt-StarCraft which better suits my tastes.

Here's the initial pitch. More ideas and elaborations I'll work out later.

So the premise is that the terrans, zergs, and tosses meet and fight

The terrans are organized into a confederation. The central govt is weak, and the colonies have their own militia. A total 180 from the canon confederacy/dominion

The zergs are organized into a collective consciousness. I have no idea how to explain this using science, so I’ll use magic. The zergs’ collective consciousness casts a shadow in the Void/Warpspace/whatever, and this shadow is the Overmind. Unlike the canon, it’s not an external slave master imposed on the zerg, but a natural extension of their telepathic network. (It’s basically the tyranid hive mind.) Otherwise it’s basically identical to the Overmind from canon.

The exception is cerebrates. There’s no cerebrates in SC2, so that role is played by brood mothers, evolution masters, and so forth.

The protoss are basically the same as canon prior to the invasion of aiur. With one major exception. They hold an empire of hundreds or more planets on the galactic rim. They’re not a dying race, but quite the opposite.

So why are they fighting?

The terran colonies aren’t a perfect harmony. They wage resource wars against one another (which has a cascade effect, natch), and they’re looking greedily upon the protoss worlds across their borders.

There is a bit of cold war situation between the terran confederation and the protoss empire. Most terrans aren’t really aware of the empire beyond rumors and ruins, but the govts have been spying on transmissions. The taldarim have previously raided terran settlements and massacred people, but the terrans don’t know enough to distinguish the different protoss groups.

Then the zerg arrive and shake things up. This is similar to canon with a few major differences. After eating the xel’naga (Amon doesn’t survive here, his villain role is superseded by the zerg), the zerg consumed countless worlds in order to build an army capable of defeating the protoss empire. They were able to track the emanations of the psi matrix in order to ascertain the borders of the empire (contradicting canon majorly), but their prognosticators deduced that in their present state they wouldn’t survive a prolonged war (contradicting canon?). They discovered terran space and sent scouting broods to assimilate the terrans, as it is believed the terran psychic mutants will provide an advantage against the protoss (I’ll explain this in more detail later). At the same time, they send provisional broods into protoss space in order to test the protoss and keep them distracted from zerg activities elsewhere.

The zerg initially believe the terrans will be easy to defeat. They assume wrong. The terrans are able to put up a fight, developing various technologies like cyborg enslaved zerg, psi-emitters, psi-disruptors, hive mind emulators, psi-destroyers, etc. Nonetheless, many terran population centers are infested by zerg forces.

Similar to canon, the protoss follow zerg space probes to terran space and glass several planets. This causes the terrans to declare open war on the protoss. Some protoss rebel against the genocidal orders and try to save the terrans, though obviously it’s going to be very difficult to convince the terrans not to shoot them on sight.

At the same time, some protoss scientists discover that the zerg utilize khaydarin and may be related to the xel’naga. While investigating xel’naga ruins in terran space in hopes of corroborating this, protoss archaeologists accidentally awaken the ihanrii from hibernation. The ihanrii originally ruled the space now claimed by the terrans, and they’re not happy about all the (to them) new invaders.

So the entire sector is waging open war against itself.

Feel free to ask me questions, offer critique, etc.

I have a lot of other ideas, but I just wanted to get the gist out as soon as possible.

EDIT: Appending the replies I made under spoiler tags to avoid spamming the thread.

In this post, I discuss the zerg hive mind and the changes to it in my altcraft. These changes are important, since they completely redefine the nature of the zerg.

Zerg Hive Mind

In canon the zerg hive mind is not actually a hive mind in the real world sense of the term. The zerg are simply programmed to obey anybody holding their remote control.

That is most certainly not the case in my altcraft.

The Overmind is not a giant eyeball brain thing that tells the zerg what to do. It is the zerg hive mind.

You know how a human brain is composed of millions upon millions of neurons that work together to produce your conscious mind? All the individual zerg creatures are neurons, the swarms are the brain they compose, and the Overmind is the mind of that brain.

The Overmind is the amalgamated minds of all zerg. All that every zerg mind is lies wholly within the Overmind. The Overmind is the zerg, and the zerg are the Overmind.

However, there's also a layer of introspection here.

The Overmind voice is actually a narrative convention to make the zerg more interesting to a human player. The purpose of the Overmind is too talk in a sophisticated manner about the zerg (who are otherwise vicious monsters), be the exposition fairy, and act as a father figure to the player character and zerg peers.

The zerg leaders aren't puppets of the Overmind, but have their own personalities based on the directives assigned to them from birth by the Overmind. They don't have free will like humans do, but their psychology is so alien that they don't notice nor care. In fact, they would perceive human free will as a terrifying loneliness and a fate worse than death. From their perspective, the zerg leaders are devoted to the Overmind... like cult members, is the closest human analogue I can think of.

What does this mean in practice?

Well, in terms of characterization the zerg characters are still going to act the same, aside from their devotion and loyalty to the Overmind. Daggoth, Zasz, Nargil, Zagara, Niadra, Abathur, Izsha, etc aren't going to act noticeably different than they did in their canonical and quasi-canonical appearances. They don't really much characterization to begin, so there's not much to change even if this did change them.

There are, however, two (maybe three) huge changes to how the zerg culture functions compared to canon.

Firstly, there is no Queen of Blades character... or any similar instance of an infested terran in a leader position. The zerg see humans as raw materials to create new warrior beasts. They have no reason to elevate a human mind to the position of a leader figure, especially not one as overbearing at canon QoB. Although infested terrans retain their memories, their wills are subsumed into the hive mind and they no longer exhibit human desires the way that QoB did in canon BW. They don't engage in diplomacy, political subterfuge, revenge, or fits of pique. All zerg share the same basic drive: eat everything in their path toward perfection.

Secondly, the dark templar no longer have any special ability to assassinate the Overmind or cerebrates. The Overmind no longer exists as a distinct physical entity, and the cerebrates don't exist because of that pesky agreement with Games Workshop. The zerg leaders can be killed through conventional means as per SC2. They can also be revived as per the game mechanics, but this isn't a magical ability: their essence is cloned. All zerg essence is disseminated throughout the hive mind, so destroying a zerg character is a much taller order than just having a dark templar stab them. By the same token, the zerg aren't sentimental about keeping their characters around: once a character's primary directive is no longer viable, then they will be recycled. This is also why zerg leaders are not given names at birth: most aren't expected to live long enough to need names.

Right now you're probably wondering a few questions. I can't read your mind, but I'm guessing you think something along these lines.

Q: "If the dark templar can't permanently kill the zerg leaders, then how will the protoss defeat the zerg?"
A: By killing them conventionally. The zerg aren't invincible. You can defeat them using non-magical means, like superior technology.

Q: "If the zerg and the Overmind are one and the same, then how can they make peace with the terrans and protoss?"
A: They don't. The zerg are the villains of this story. They take the place Amon had in canon.

Q: "If the zerg characters can't die, then there's no tension to the story!"
A: They can die, it's just not as easy as a dark templar stabbing them. Firstly, threat of death isn't the only way to add tension to a story; I'm sure there are plenty of ways to make the RTS adventures of a nigh-immortal character interesting. Secondly, the zerg are still social Darwinist; if a zerg leader repeatedly shows themselves to be incompetent and unable to advance the zerg's plans, then the Overmind will recycle them. Thirdly, the zerg aren't human and don't think the same way; they're vicious alien monsters and their story isn't going to be a simple recolor of a human story.

Feel free to ask questions or critique.

In this post, I discuss protoss psychology and the khala/void dichotomy. These are completely redefined in a similar way to the zerg hive mind.

The Khala

In canon, the khala was a simple enslavement protocol placed on the protoss by Amon in order to control them. They destroyed it by cutting off their ponytails and lived happily ever after.

That is most certainly not the case in my altcraft.

In order to understand how the khala works, you first need to understand protoss psychology. This is a lot simpler to explain than zerg psychology.

Long story short: the protoss are inherently vicious and warlike, like eldar and klingons. The khala is the only thing keeping them from waging endless civil war.

In the absence of the khala, the protoss suffered the Aeon of Strife. The taldarim are a perfect example of how protoss behave without the khala: violent, warlike, tribal, barely able to maintain their technology without piracy, etc.

The khala is necessary for the protoss to have a civilization. So when the judicators express fear of the nerazim heretics, they have very solid justifications for it.

Now you must be wondering a few questions.

Q: "How do the nerazim have a civilization without the khala?"
A: The nerazim practice a meditation regimen that allows them to suppress their negative emotions. The rogue tribes realized the errors of the aeon of strife, but they developed a solution entirely separate from Khas' rediscovery of the khala.

Q: "If the dark templar can't kill the cerebrates, then how can the protoss reconcile?"
A: By actually sitting down and talking through their differences.
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