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Lyle Zapato

Arboreal Octopi Of Planet Cholganna

Lyle Zapato | 2013-11-22.8895 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment

The above is from the book Beyond the Rim (2013), an adventure module for the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire role-playing game. It shows an attack by Arboreal Octopi found in the Idona Forest on the densely forested planet of Cholganna, "a remote and isolated world located at the outer edge of the Outer Rim, with only Wild Space beyond".

Cholgannan Arboreal Octopi were first mentioned in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary (2002), in the entry for the Nexu -- the wide-mouthed, cat-like predator seen in that movie assisting Natalie Portman in baring her midriff -- whose natural prey were listed as bark rats and arboreal octopi.

Beyond the Rim expands on that mention-in-passing with three paragraphs of description and the first officially licensed image. Being an RPG supplement, it also gives stats (it's a "rival" with no talents or abilities) and a short suggested encounter script. From the description:

The arboreal octopus is a multi-tentacled horror that lives in the upper canopy of the forest. It descends to the lower branches to ambush its prey from above. Pack hunters that rely on stealth and agility, the octopi wrap themselves around large tree trunks or solid tree limbs and ensnare unwitting prey as it passes below. Once an arboreal octopus has grabbed its victim, it tries to haul it up to a higher perch to eat its meal.

Following the common sci-fi trope of aliens being like earth creatures, only different, the arboreal octopus of Cholganna differs from Earth octopuses (both arboreal and aquatic) in a number of ways: it's covered in fur with a fixed brown-green tree-camo pattern (instead of the more sci-fi-sounding adaptive color-changing skin of reality); warm-blooded (not listed in this book, but was in other sources); has six eyes, two on top of its head and four around its body (which are either well-hidden or missing from the illustration); sharp teeth instead of a beak; and seven tentacles, four for climbing and three for hunting, equipped variously with spikes, claws, talons, and sticky-substance-secretors in lieu of suction cups.

Now that Disney owns all of Star Wars and wants to release at least one standalone spin-off movie a year, expect to see these featured (and possibly singing) in Star Wars: Episode VII: Sub-Episode V: Camping Trip of IG-88. Also, action figures. Since they're pack hunters there'll be more than one shown, so Hasbro should be able to get away with separately carding at least three slightly different color variations with ™ed names never mentioned in the film. It worked with the Arboreal Teddy Bears, so why not?

Having tree octopuses in RPGs seems to be a minor trend. I previously mentioned Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom and its menagerie of terrestrial cephalopods, and I've found three others: Dungeons & Dragons supplement Stormwrack: Mastering the Perils of Wind and Wave (2005) suggests including relatively harmless arboreal octopi ("the tree-climbing octopus might be after coconuts and only occasionally try to crack a character's head by mistake"); Fera Vita (2005), a supplement about wildlife for the sci-fi RPG Pax Draconis, has a page of stats, description, and illustration for a Land Octopus (Lukashi) that spends much of its time in the trees and has spread to most major worlds thanks their hatchlings stowing away in the swimsuits of tourists; and World of BEAN! (2012), a source book for some sort of bean-based RPG called simply BEAN!, includes arboreal octopi that are dangerous but "easily distracted by shiny things".

End of post.