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Living planet

Hey all, I am currently playing Unreal II, the sequel to Unreal, in which there is an entire planet covered with a single living organism. The planet is surrounded with metorite sized spores that this organism gives off. Now I found this to be very intriguing. A planet made of rock and dirt that has the entire surface covered by a non sentient creature. The surface is hard because of the creatures outer shell and it only reacts when there is a major disturbance on it surface. Anyone on the surface walking around would not even register on its nervous system and it would take a starship crash or nuclear explosion for it to react. In the game there is an artifact that the player is looking for which is located deep with in the beast. Once you remove the artifact then the creature reacts, suggesting a connection between the long buried item and the creature. Also, according to the story line the Mega corp that is terra forming the planet is slowly "killing" creature by introducing oxygen into the atmosphere. I thought this was cool concept and thought I would get the forums input, if any.
Years ago (I think mid to late 1950s) there was a sci-fi flick that had something very much like this, but for the life of me I can't think of the title. It may have been an American and Japanese co-production, but I'm not sure.

The other flicks that come to mind are the original and remake of "Solaris", where the entire planet is a living creature that creates things from your memory. I think in Lem's book the creature feeds off of positive emotions, and thus creates beings from its own living mass that are, in essence, people from the character's memories.

The first example is very Travellereque like Unreal II (which I have not played... I was a little dissapointed with the first one when it came out, what, ten years ago?), and would be a very interesting setting in which to inject characters. The second one is more character driven, and in this sense, at least the way I write and run adventures, would be very hard to impliment.
Blakes 7 had a couple of episodes of that nature - Sand in season 4 where the planet was covered in some sort of vamiric ... sand. and another episode whose name escapes me in season 1, where an entire planet was an organism, complete with intelligent parasites.
A german SciFi series ("Flaming Bess" by Michael Ziegler, 1986+) one of the books dealt with "The Archive" That was a planet-spanning organism that functioned as a galactic "Library of Congress".

Our Heroine and her rather strange crew(1) had to go there to find a way to Earth and discovered that the Archive was ill. So they had to find a way in and cure the tumor. Along the way they faced all the problems a large scale organism can throw at you similar to the old "Submarine in a Human" movie (The Version with Raquel Welch!)

At the same time the organism was quite aware (in it's sane moments) that they wanted to help him and tries his best to support them whenever he could.

Information retrieval/transfer was handeled quite interesting: Certain regions of the organism where telepathic and could "read" any coherent request. It would then send out spores that would attach themself to the person and inject the information.

(1)Now that I think of it, the author must have been a role player. Crew and ship simply scream "Make me an adventure"
The Alpha Centauri computer game I think had something like this?
There was a pulp era Sci Fi book that used that idea for a future Earth.

There was one plant that had taken over the entire planet (an African Tree if I remember correctly). People were low-tech and becoming obsolete. At the end of the book, the plant was sending off spores to colonize other planets. I think I have it at home, I will have to see if I can find it.

Maybe something from the 50s??????
On a slightly different note you could have the planet itself be alive. There was a fantasy kids book a while back where a whole planetoid was a sentient computer due to it's high silicon content. I'm thinking ancients.
I'm not sure, but didn't Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Jules Verne write such a short story where a deep drill or minebroke through the crust and the world reacted like it had been stuck with a needle? " The World Screamed" or some such.
Star Trek has a couple of similar things. The latest is in the Vanguard Series from TOS...

A Variant on the theme - A MetaGenome that the planet has. It has the ability to do multiple things based on what the controlling intelligence wants done.. ie it makes up all the plant life on the planet and when the invaders come (red shirts) it takes the form of a consuming virus, killer vines, or large terminator creatures.

Jack Chalker has a novel about something similar...I think the AI on the colony ship develops a virus that transforms everything into a stable ecosystem which precludes technology... "Web of the Chosen"...The Virus transforms everything that lands on the planet to fit the ecology...

A good reason for those Red Zones, I'd think...

IMTU I have a planetoid where the only lifeform is a nasty little microbe that grows on the rocks; it eats away at the rocks using an acidic secretion. Got the idea from tooth decay of all things.

The little suckers are resistant to hard vacuum and radiation. The colony migrates across the surface, leeching away at the rocks, all to stay in the sunlight from the system's primary. But give the microbes someplace metal rich to grow, like a grounded starship, and it's lunch time.

Local smugglers use the backside of the planetoid as a meeting point, as all evidence of their passing is wiped clean during the next rotation. But smugglers who stay too long often never make their next port of call; their ship eaten away from underneath them.
If psionics can be postulated as having a genetic basis - why not have that gene as dominant in all lifeforms introduced within the biosphere of a particular world. From space, it looks like a run of the mill garden world or hellhole (doesn't matter). When the players land they begin to feel the pull of the world as it as a collective organism begins to assess their ecological niche. Strongly psionic (even if latent) could become carnivores chasing having more passive herbivores. Turning the party against itself and for the lack of them the players would never figure out the "why's" until they leave the planet...but even then...they maybe contaminated with spores and other living entities from the planet(...best used if a garden planet scenario).