Ancient Astronauts
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Basic Information

In this Science Fiction Trope it is revealed that the Gods, Culture Heroes and Mythological Creatures of the distant past were real, but were "merely" aliens. This lets you blend Sword and Sorcery with spaceships and mecha, and set it all in Prehistory.

To some extent, this is a precursors trope where the precursors just happened to be us (or very like us) - although it can also be played with straight up alien precursors.

See Also

In addition, this trope is often used as the back story or secret history of the Mayincatec or Ancient Egypt.

They often figure into modern speculative fiction twists on ancient flood myths or stone-flying wizard concepts.

Some more things the Ancient Astronauts might have been responsible for:

Sufficiently advanced technology can also be inserted to replace magic - teleporters, flying cities (orbital installations), nanotech healing and similar things can all fit the slot and with sufficient self-maintenance capability, automated facilities millennia old can still be operational.


Books: Chariots Of The Gods by Erich von Däniken

Game and Story Use

  • Always a fun twist, even if it is pretty cliched at this point.
    • Could use it to suprise the PCs in a Time Travel campaign, should they go back far enough in time.
    • Or the PCs could be the Ancient Astronauts. Have them stuck in the past, or crash on a primitive world, and use whatever science and tech they brought with to put themselves at the top of the food chain.
  • Ancient Myths could be paralleled in a Space Opera or other sci-fi setting. Base your PCs and NPCs on classical heroes and Gods, and tell the tale of Troy or Ragnarok set against a backdrop of the stars.
  • Could be the secret truth behind an Out Of Place Artifact.
  • Slipped into several of David Gemmell's Drenai novels.
  • Works for a (long time) After the End setting.
  • Also works for something like The Chrysalids with modern "astronauts" waiting in the wings to make contact once humanity passes specific checkpoints.
  • Likewise the Harnworld setting involves the "Earthmaster" civilisation which effectively fulfil this role.
  • Even if it isn't literally true, it's a common enough belief for someone to mention it. In a game with other Theosophistical themes, someone will almost certainly bring up this specific one.
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