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SCP-939 Life Cycle Addendum

We've seen a lot of feedback, mostly positive about the shared SCP-939 visual life cycle, and the designs overall, but there also seems to be a fair amount of confusion about some aspects, so this post aims to clear that up. I'd also like to clarify that this post specifically was written by Kailan (me), so from now on, that is what "I" and "my" refer to.


Final SCP-939 concept art featuring two instances, one on all fours and the other standing. One has a split face, while the other has a more rugged normal head,


The Design of SCP-939

As with all of our other SCP designs, we immediately set out to create a unique take on 939 back in July of 2022 as our first real exploration into new visuals. According to the wiki article, they're muated fanged creatures, and are mixed with humans in a horrifying way. They lack eyes of any kind and stand upright on two legs, but their limbs don't look human and have long, most likely retractable claws. On top of that, the bodies themselves are described as being warped and disfigured. They hunt in packs in the dark luring in prey by mimicking the voices of other people, and slowly paralyse them through a natural amnestic transmitted via their breath. The following bullet points are an excerpt from my personal notes on SCP-939.


  • Basic: They're endothermic predators averaging 2.2 meters in height when standing upright, and they weigh around 250 kg. Their skin is highly permeable which makes me think of aerogel, and it's also red.

  • Limbs: Four limbs with three fingers, and opposable thumbs. They're also covered in setae to assist with climbing and general grip.

  • Head: Their heads are elongated versions of human skulls with no eye sockets or brain casings.

  • Jaws: Lined with faintly luminescent fang-like teeth that glow in the dark described as being similar to the Chauliodus genus. We'll need to look more into viperfish for reference.

  • Eye Spots: They're described as having eye spots along their dorsal ridges. It says they're sensitive to changes in light as well as the air, so they're definitely more sensitive than a lot of people give them credit for. In terms of the spots themselves this doesn't help, but it's good to know that they have a dorsal ridge. It means the overal look should probably be more hunched over, and we can look to sharks for the best reference there.

  • Organs: The article says they lack almost all organs with the exception of an atrophied respiratory system, but because we're looking for overall damage and more bodily detail, I reckon it'd be better to go in the direction of having almost all of the organs atrophied, with some of the smaller ones dissolving as time goes on. If that happens, it keeps lore accuracy in the sense that they don't have functioning organs, but will make the critically wounded ones feel a whole lot more visceral.

  • Smell: The initial capture log describes the smell of something dead or decaying. It's never explicitly stated what the cause of the smell is, but it'd be good to incorporate it into the older designs as the site seems to be a nest of some kind, at least from the description


From this information, we got the first sketch outline for SCP-939.

Initial sketch of a bipedal instance of an SCP-939 juvenile.

After some brief discussions, we also decided to include a 939 instance on all fours to showcase how you might encounter them, and also to make sure the design would work in both bipedal and quadrupedal formats. If you're wondering why we did it this way, please refer to the questions or gameplay section of this post.

A sketch of two 939s next to each other, one on all fours and the other standing upright.

A little while later we settled on the following coloured look, but weren't quite happy with the overall shape, so we spent a lot of time coming up with other revisions, trying to redesign the head, and also focus on the torso. The ironic part is that I think we hit the nail on the head immediately with the design. However, we did get to refine it more, and decided on having stuff like head variants which you'll see in the concept art to follow.

The same as the previous image, but with rough colours.

The heads were actually the first thing we concepted out, as we wanted to explore other potential angles for how it might look. As the article described, they're quite deformed, and have many callbacks to various sea creatures which has a lot of potential for some unique designs. In this first run, A was inspired by the almost plant-like nature of the creature, B was an insectoid take, C was more like a creature of the sea, D is a more traditional octopus style, and both F and G are closer to what we initially envisioned for a 939 instance. In the end, we really loved the way the flesh was tearing apart in the F concept as well as the classic look of G, but A with its split almost plant-like face was also something that caught our attention. The next concept run was a combination of those three. With the flesh tearing a little more toned back, we were happy to call these our four potential head variants for SCP-939 in the game.

Initial head concepts with 6 options. A is a droopy split head design, B is an insectoid with fangs, C has what could almost be considered tentacles, D looks like an octopus with teeth covering everything, F is a normal head but with split flesh, and G is a much more normal head with a big grin and long teeth,
Four head variants. A normal head, a torn version, then a split head followed by a torn version of that split head design.

Up next were the torso designs, but this stage was really simple. We tried giving them more human definition, but the general concern was that they'd be viewed as "hot", and that anything too clean might take away from that deformed look, so we almost unanimously went for C. Some of our patrons disagreed, but I swear they'd act up if a pile of dirt looked at them the wrong way.

Three 939 torso concepts. The first has abs but is quite skinny. Design B is a built up muscular torso, and the final one is much more flat and stretched, appearing to be stretched skin rather than defined muscles.
A final showcase of the side and front profile of 939's body, with a frog-like posture.

Now we had a design for the SCP-939 juveniles, it was time to work on the rest of the happy family.



The Life Cycle of SCP-939

We knew right from the get go that we still wanted to make an homage to the classic Containment Breach ketchup frogs, whilst also giving them more of an internal hierarchy. They hunt in packs and seemed to have nests, so it makes sense that at different ages they could have various specialisations. The age 200 was chosen as a relatively arbitrary number, allowing for a beyond normal human lifespan, but also not going too into the realm of crazy to allow for these things to have actually aged solidly since being captured.


They'd start off as a a "human x John Carpenter's 'The Thing'", then morph into the juveniles over time. Once they grow beyond the juvenile state, they'd become bulky and stuck on all fours due to their immense mass, relying more on powerful amnestic clouds and brute for strenth than agility. Since they're horrific beasts without the ability to die without ageing away, I also thought it could be disgusting to have them rotting alive, sometimes getting to the point of being no more than a heaving mass of flesh on the floor. We also had to be careful to make sure they didn't overshadow huge creatures like 096 who stands at 2.5m tall. Big SCPs should be the exception, not the norm, otherwise you risk normalising them and making them much less intimidating.


From ages 0-3, we wanted something very human. We imagined that one or two researchers might have been assigned to it to act as foster parents in order to try and experiment with them or control them. That's why the toddler in the final life cycle art is wearing scraps of blue clothing. Down the line, we were planning on adding colour classifications to the class-ds, and blue represents non-violent crimes or working inmates. It implies that the researchers that took care of it may have grown attached, as people do. "You could almost imagine them dressing up this deformed thing like it's an actual human and not at all a mutant from some lovecraftian horror", said Credence right before starting on this age range. We needed a nice mix of cute and disturbing.


Ages 4-6 are what we considered the "child" state, in which the violent bodily changes started to happen. althugh the final drawing still has elements of the early design, it was definitely toned back to be a little cuter. In this early sketch, you can see the flesh beginning to dissolve off the body, the eye sockets closing up, and the neck being artificially elongated and twisted. You can also see red marks from it attempting to self mutilate, perhaps in an attempt to end its own suffering. The idea here was that it'd effectively break the child's neck, then growths would split the jaw open, as the skull is flattened beneath the growing flesh. In case it wasn't already clear, we did not want to pursue this route for the sake of our 3D artists. The second image is the cuter sketch we replaced it with that ended up remaining virtually unchanged.

A disturning rendition of a child part way through the process of becoming 939.
A cuter variant of the previous art with a split face and melted flesh.

















While we classify 7-19 internally as the juvenile stage, technically 7-10 is an intermediary stage for 939. The juveniles are the one's you'll be most likely to encounter in the facility They can climb walls and ceilings, are highly vicious and agile, and are effectively in their prime. They're planned to be the sorts of killing machines as described on the wiki. They act as the hunter-gatherers to bring back food for the young that still have functioning digestive systems, as well as victims for the adults.


20-40 is the adult stage, and when they visually become a lot closer to their classic Containment Breach counterparts. Their role is more so centred around the defence of nests and the young.


Around the age of 50 is when they begin to decompose. While they won't die for at least another century, the flesh can only last so long for them. At this point, the skin starts to dry up, losing its permeability, and the body loses the structural integrity it once had. While they should still be feared by the player, they're only husks of what they once were.


So all that being said, here is the final life cycle art.

Life cycle of the SCP-939 instances across 5 generations. Toddler, child, juvenile, adult, and elder.

(And a size chart for reference)



Questions About the SCP-939

Q: Why are they not bipedal?

A: They start off bipedal, and still use bipedal locomotion for slower movements, but for sprints and climbing, they go down on all fours. This gives them a significant movement advantage in most areas as they're not beholden to either method, and makes them much harder to hear and take down.


Q: Why can I see guts spilling out of the elder?

A: As mentioned in the organ notes of the design section, we wanted to keep some of the organs (all non-functional and atrophied as per the article) for the visual interest it adds. Would you rather just see mush or bits of flesh? It's a reminder that these things were also once arguably normal living creatures.


Q: I thought SCP-939 couldn't die?

A: Now it can't die... Within reason. :)


Q: Why they built like that?

A: We've had some feedback that the change to a full 939 should be immediate, but we really loved the concept of it being a slow and horrific set of disfigurations and changes to their bodies. The adults and elders also act as a nice homage to the classic froggy creatures.



Gameplay

I'm not sure how much I want to get into gameplay here as it's still up for discussion and subject to change, ignoring the fact that they're nowhere near an early encounter, but you can probably already pick up fragments from what's already been discussed. The general plan without being too specific is to give the heavy containment zone a slight overhaul to increase verticality and variety, which will allow the SCP-939 juveniles to flex their legs a little more in a manner of speaking. In terms of spread, the current plan was to have a few nests, but only one actually active. As mentioned on the wiki, VX gas seems to be quite effective, and the 939s are territorial, which I'm sure you can imagine would lead to several disputes. In terms of the amnestic breath, there's still discussions floating around, but it'd certainly be interesting to try and work in amnesia as a gameplay mechanic.

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