Who are the Shee?
Ever since Creatures was launched in 1996, people have wondered about the Shee - the creators of the Norns and the other creatures in the game. A certain mystique has shrouded them - what did they look like, how were they able to perform such complex genetic engineering experiments and where have they disappeared to? All that remains are their fantastic inventions, some ancient documents and the statue in the underground laboratories. But does the awesome Shee statue really look like the Shee or did they mold an image that they wanted to be remembered by?
For the first time in the history of the game, we get a glimpse of the Shee. This report is by Toby Simpson, Creative Director of Creatures Products.
Not much is known about the present day Shee, as they've only recently been located. However, much is known about their history and the way that they used to be. The Shee are some of the most successful scientists in the entire universe, seemingly through luck rather than judgement. Their naivete about the world around them is extraordinary - rarely would they consider the consequences of an action in advance of trying it. These are the sort of people who'd drop one chemical compound into another thinking "hey, I wonder what this will do." Whereas normal universal laws of bad fortune would result in an explosion, a Shee performing the same experiment is more likely to discover how to turn fresh air into used, non-sequentially serial numbered 100 dollar bills.
This amazing ability to stumble blindly into accidental success, together with the ridiculous situations this kind of approach to life has resulted in, has led the Shee through a high speed development of some of the most advanced technology in the entire universe.
The Shee are born inventors, and as such share many of the typical traits of such people. They over-engineer everything - they'd happily spend weeks researching a way of saving time, even though doing the task in the first place might have only taken five minutes. This follows the "automobile short-cut" theory to life, in that any short-cut taken on roads invariably takes longer than if you'd stuck with the bad traffic, but good grief, does it feel good to try it. A typical example of this would be dealing with short sightedness. This problem can be solved using glasses or contact lenses. The Shee would have discovered DNA, found the errant genes and fixed them. Indeed, this is precisely what happened - there are no opticians on Albia.*
Technologically, the Shee's creations look and feel like a Jules Verne illustrated novel - a mixture of tubes, escaping steam and pure brute force mixed with incredibly advanced biotech components. The Shee used their early discovery of DNA to create animals and plants designed to improve the quality of their lives and discovered the wheel hundreds of years after curing every single genetic error in their expansive genome.**
The Shee are not good planners. They tend to plan by execution - they have a great idea, try it and see what happens. On Earth, they'd happily fly from Heathrow to San Francisco on the off chance that a friend would be at home that evening for a drink. It would never cross their minds to phone first just to be sure, as after all - it is a long way to go only to find that they're out.
As a final reference to the Shee's personality, here is a text transcript of a recorded conversation between two Shee, circa. 500 B.E (500 years before the Shee left Albia forever):
"I say, old chap, I'm on fire."
"Goodness gracious, I expect that hurts. I'll design a device to pump water from the eastern ocean up to here. You get the kettle on." "Splendid. Sugar, Milk?"
*NASA knows just how this feels, having invested in the production of a pen that would write in zero gravity. The successful result of this research and development program (costing millions) is the space pen. The Russians used a pencil.
**Records suggest several hundred thousand genes over nearly a hundred chromosome pairs. Unlike most of the other organisms that they created, the Shee's genetics are diploid.