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What are Kerbals?!


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This has been a debate for years now in the KSP community. What are Kerbals? Some people theorize that they’re plants, some people theorize they’re fungi, some people theorize they;'re animals, and some people people have even theorized that colonies of organisms! I have built off these theories, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

THE PLANT THEORY

It’s a tiny bit bizarre to think Kerbals are entirely plants. They do eat other things, and have a brain (albeit not much of one). But I do have theory that could still incorporate photosynthesis. In real life, there’s an animal called Elysia Chlorotica, or Emerald Green Sea Slug, that can photosynthesize. This is because they eat algae. From the algae, they take their genes and chloroplasts via specialized pouches in their intestines. This then allows them to photosynthesize. They can go months without food. Kerbals might do the same thing

Kerbals are obviously very food driven. And they probably eat a lot. Perhaps they too have specialized pouches in their intestines, which collect genes and chloroplasts from, let’s say, veggie snacks? Now, obviously, Kerbals are bigger than sea slugs. So perhaps they’re able to photosynthesize for several years at a time, and that’s what makes them able to be in space for so long.

THE COLONY THEORY

Kerbals could possibly be not one organism, but multiple put together to form one massive, moving colony. A real life example could also be drawn from this one too. The Portuguese Man O’ War is often thought of as a jellyfish, but it’s actually a massive floating colony with organisms that work together to feed themselves. If Kerbals are like this, it’d explain why they can live pretty much forever.

Plants photosynthesize to make food for a Kerbal, and fungi and bacteria decompose dead matter and reproduce to replenish the shape of the colony, making the Kerbal, once again, a pretty much immortal being.

THE FUNGI THEORY

Fungi is indeed a very good theory too. Kerbals look a lot like fungus, with their flat and round heads. So the idea that they’re fungus isn’t too far off. Perhaps they evolved from a fungus with some kind of fuzz on top of it, that slowly became able to walk and move, and it eventually became an animal. It still maintained its fungal features, though. Fungi though, however, are heterotrophs, and feed off dead organisms. So unless Kerbals feed off their souls, the fungus theory isn’t too strong.

THE ANIMAL THEORY

Kerbals are most likely animals. They are quite clearly some kind of mobile heterotroph. But they are very specialized animals. I think think the fact that their semi-autotrophic makes the most sense. But, perhaps you think something else.

 

Note to mods: I don’t know if this fits in KSP 1 discussion, KSP 2 discussion, or KSP fan works. Put it where you think it goes.

Edited by Kerbalsaurus
Colony theory added!
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The animal theory seems to hold the most weight, of course. One has to ask though what gives them their green pigmentation. We might further ask if Kerbals are even carbon based life-forms.

Biology is something that others will find more interest in with the kerbals, I personally am interested in them from an anthropological perspective. What is their history, their culture? It seems that all that we know is that they are advanced enough in technology to support a robust space program, and that they have been interested in spaceflight and astronomy for some time, as is our species, but they seem to perhaps be even more engaged in it. 

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12 minutes ago, WasatchWind said:

Biology is something that others will find more interest in with the kerbals, I personally am interested in them from an anthropological perspective. What is their history, their culture? It seems that all that we know is that they are advanced enough in technology to support a robust space program, and that they have been interested in spaceflight and astronomy for some time, as is our species, but they seem to perhaps be even more engaged in it. 

Same. I want to know how they avoided humanity's greatest mistakes (war, racism, xenophobia) yet embody humanity's greatest qualities (wonder, friendship, joy). I don't even think that they evolved past those bad things; I always pictured that it just never even occurred to them to try them in the first place. Like children, they're inherently sweet, and always have been. I would want to know how their society works given that.

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I think all of the theories make no sense. Kerbals are obviously a group of Lemmings that were put into some sort of low polygon matrix where they found the most extreme ways to put their lives in danger and beeing reintroduced in the matrix with a new personality after failed missions.

Why else would there only be a space center on the complete planet - where do the ressources come from? Why do new Kerbals keep appearing out of nowhere no matter how many of them get lost? What is the space kraken? Why do Kerbals jump into ships that most of the time fail, get destroyed or never come back? How did they create rocket science and the buildings yet nothing else and even fail to use ladders? Why do they neither need air, food or water?

 

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I am going to jump in here a minute to say I love this! 

The official stance is "We don't know what Kerbals are".  There is no official backstory or lore at this time.

So it would be fun to see what you all think.

Have some fun with it.  :vallove: :heart_eyes:

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Ive found another reasonable explaination. Maybe Kerbals are just the last survivors of a global war that only left one island with a space training center intact (which wasnt a target for anyone) with lots of spare parts and the kerbals are actually geckos that evolved/mutated after beeing sent to space (in 2014) (the brain simply got huge yet not really fully functional) and they evolved to walk like humans since they didnt want to waste all the clothing found - which would explain their weird movement and why they cant use ladders. Still lemmings would be a better explainations for their behaviour (even if thats a bit of an urban myth).

Edited by Moons
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40 minutes ago, Just Jim said:

I am going to jump in here a minute to say I love this! 

The official stance is "We don't know what Kerbals are".  There is no official backstory or lore at this time.

So it would be fun to see what you all think.

Have some fun with it.  :vallove: :heart_eyes:

Thanks!

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Reading up on the origins of KSP, the creator and his brother would build rockets out of fireworks and attach tinfoil men to them. That inspired KSP.

I always heard stories from my parents about strapping frogs to fireworks (The 1970s and 80s were quite the times).  So that has stuck in my head, that I am pretty much strapping frog-men in a nice rocket or plane and sending them off with dignity and respect. To their ultimate demise

Plus Kerbal just feels like a frog name to me.

 

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Clearly, they are a type of symbiotic slime mold of unicellular algae and yeast. Making them a fungus, a plant, and an animal at the same time. That explains the lack of Kerbal cities on Kerbin, as the natural state of Kerbals is just single cell culture living in the shallow waters and damp soil of Kerbin. What we know as Kerbals are just the fruiting bodies that gained sentience in their endless quest to spread the spores as far as possible. To that end, Kerbals are capable of building amazing machinery, mostly in coastal areas, to spread themselves to other worlds. Thanks to their symbiotic origin, they can consume a variety of food sources, but also just nourish themselves on the sunlight, endlessly recirculating atmosphere without needing an oxygen supply, as well as be able to spend a very long time in a semi-dormant state waiting for the right conditions to release their spores.

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On 3/3/2023 at 9:30 PM, WasatchWind said:

The animal theory seems to hold the most weight, of course. One has to ask though what gives them their green pigmentation. We might further ask if Kerbals are even carbon based life-forms.

Biology is something that others will find more interest in with the kerbals, I personally am interested in them from an anthropological perspective. What is their history, their culture? It seems that all that we know is that they are advanced enough in technology to support a robust space program, and that they have been interested in spaceflight and astronomy for some time, as is our species, but they seem to perhaps be even more engaged in it. 

They have a supposed mythilogy (Moho in it is basically hell). And have a weird case of frequent death by shock (See Rockomax Hub part description).

They don't seem to care enough to go out on full on war, but seem to care about being outsmarted (See Mk3 Cargobays description) and whenever Eeloo is a planet or not (enough to start big fights about it)

Gosh, i hope we get more of this bizarre, funky and extremely funny society they live in.

Edited by Davi SDF
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Kerbals are our reptilian overlords who took over the planet (formerly Earth, now Kerbin) and used our left-behind technology to pursue their deepest, most passionate existential questions.

Such as... "What crackers go best with Mun cheese?"

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49 minutes ago, Strawberry said:

As we can see by when one crashes they are made out of smoke

Obviously, they are electronics.

When you let the smoke out, they stop working.

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As Kerbals can stay decades, some says centuries in their space suit, it is reasonnable to assume their body functions in closed cycle. It means they are a complete ecosystem. This ecosystem doesn't need kerbol light, so photosynthesis is out of the question in a space suit around Eeloo.  However it seems they can eat snacks. For what purposes? Nobody knows.

"Symbiotic life form" is surely what describes them best. Without any live sample to study, a lot of question will remain unanswered.

 

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Uuky said:

As Kerbals can stay decades, some says centuries in their space suit, it is reasonnable to assume their body functions in closed cycle. It means they are a complete ecosystem. This ecosystem doesn't need kerbol light, so photosynthesis is out of the question in a space suit around Eeloo.  However it seems they can eat snacks. For what purposes? Nobody knows.

There is only one explanation.  Kerbals are nuclear powered.  No wonder they are green.  Bet ya they glow in the dark. :)

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23 minutes ago, Jacke said:

There is only one explanation.  Kerbals are nuclear powered.  No wonder they are green.  Bet ya they glow in the dark. :)

Can snacks be nuclear rods? :valhappy:

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19 minutes ago, Uuky said:

Can snacks be nuclear rods? :valhappy:

Mmmmm, crunchy, radioactive goodness. It's what kerbals crave!

I'm with you on the symbiotic life form though. In my headcanon,  kerbals are basically mobile servants (and originally warriors) for their tree gods. That sigh you can hear is probably @Just Jim rolling his eyes because I tend to trot this out whenever a similar thread turns up on this forum. :)  But if you want to know a bit more about my version of kerbal history and why they need a space program,   here's the link.  It's part of a longer story so bits of it probably won't make much sense (and looking back on it now, the writing is a bit rough around the edges), but hopefully the history part does.

And if you want something a bit more upbeat and don't mind spoilers, try this.

Edited by KSK
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I have always considered that perhaps Kerbals have the green skin because they are producing it either due to a large intake of copper (perhaps their blood uses copper as the base for their hemoglobin rather than iron like ours?), perhaps our little green men all have green blood? or by something they eat a lot of, Or possibly as a natural defense while developing (less so this we've not seen any 'threats' to them after all they seem to be the pinicial of life other then.... the krakans)  But, as for their biological sub form, they appear to have features that could suggest an Amphibian background as well if you take physical appearances such, large mouths, beady eyes, largeish body, very durable and 'elastic' bodies, the ability to seemingly hibernate (if we go with their little need for life support in ksp1 stock) for long periods at a times. 

 

Edited by robgraham
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Two South-American deities of names unknown to profanes, had incarnated in human bodies in Brasil, and became cultural heroes known as Falanghe Brothers.

They were sacrifying little green gnomes by tying them to small toy rockets and bringing them up to the skies.

But the rockets were small, the rockets with envoys weren't reaching the skies, were falling back.

The Brothers were sad for that, then one of them, known as Felipe, decided to travel to the North, to the place where the ancient and more powerful gods had built pyramids, and try to call for their assistance and summon their  power.

He reached the greatest Aztec sanctuary and learned the mysterious magic of Unity of the worlds.

He was drawing pictures and writing letters, and the miracles were happening. The painted creatures were moving, the painted rockets were flying, it was like a small hand-made world similar to the real one.

He came to the place named Squad where people were making pictures, musics, and other arts, and exchanging them for food, and suggested to implement a whole small world.
This would allow them to negotiate more food, and at the same time would allow to send the rockets with envoys much higher, and maybe even reach the sky, the Sun, and talk to those who live there.

The idea of sending somebody to Quetzalcoatl by putting him on a stock of fuel and igniting it, was basically known and clear to them, and the profit was also looking promising, so the great work immediately began.

So, they made a dream world, which exists and not exists at once.

To populate the world and send somebody as envoys, they created gnomes of some kind, with big heads of human size, popped eyes, and small bodies and limbs, silly but fearless and absolutely obedient, doing exactly what the master says. 
(Don't ask about their origin, the jungle magic has many secrets. But obviously, they have human eyes, teeth, tongue, hair, and head size. So, they are obviously not plants or mushrooms.)

To rule them, they created a mysterious Kraken, who is a hound of heaven for them.
Also, some say that Kraken also spawns the Kerbal eggs into the sea, where they born and crawl out to the land.

They built a sanctuary known as KSC, the Kerbal Sacred Castle or so.
Most part of it is undestructable and gets self-repaired even when crashed.

Now 5 million of people are sending the Kerbal envoys up to the skies, some of them even reach their Sun, and all of that gives a hope that the plan will be fulfilled.

After seeing that the plan works and doesn't need his assistance to live, Felipe also known as The Harvester, leaved it to make birds from balsa.

Later, the people tried to move the doing to the North, to the place known today as Seattle. Will it succeed or no, we'll see in its time.

Edited by kerbiloid
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