Alien Sky
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…Lost waters of the Rhine
Move among roots of nations,
Being sunken for a sign.

Under all graves they murmur,
They murmur and rebel,
Down to the buried kingdoms creep,
And like a lost rain roar and weep
In the scarlet skies of hell….

G.K. Chesterton The Ballad of the White Horse, Book VI: Ethandune, the Slaying of the Chiefs

Basic Information

Trope depicting the sky or an alien world, another dimension, or far into the future or past. Instead of our familiar blue, the sky is some other color or gradient of colors. May feature multiple moons, a debris field or rings, weird weather, floating cities, Zeppelins From Another World, Binary Suns, or a huge planet eclipsing the sky if you're on a moon. The alien sky is a fast, obvious, and cheap way to clearly let your players know that they've set foot on another world.

Unless they haven't. The alien sky is a bright shade of red herring when you're a bewildered time novice far from his home time, or if you wake up in Sydney on September 23, 2009.

Sources

Bibliography
1. Website: TV Tropes Wiki - documents the use of alien sky tropes in a variety of media
2. Website: [Heroturko - hosts downloads of some great images of gases, clouds, and alien atmospheres. May serve as inspiration, or be used as visual aid.

Game and Story Use

  • As mentioned, an easy way to clearly communicate to your PCs that they aren't in Kansas any more.
    • Even something as simple as changing which direction "the sun" rises from on an alien planet can lampshade the fact the PCs are away from home.
  • Alien skies may have unusual weather that provides a challenge all its own.
  • The color of the sky may have some impact on what the local plantlife is like. See Non-Green Photosynthesizers.
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