I have a race of primitive yet intelligent cephalopods living beneath the ice of Europa that are enslaved/enthralled by a microbial supercomputer on the ocean floor. By stimulating certain parts of their brains responsible for religious ecstasy, the microbe colony has managed to convince the cephalopod race that it is a god. As worshippers often do, the cephalopods now want to build the colony some sort of symbolic offering or tribute.

What kind of shrine or city would cephalopods build? What would it look like? Moreover, what kind of city would cephalopods build if they were designing it for microorganisms?

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    $\begingroup$ A city designed for micro-organisms is quite an unexpected mental image. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is either opinion based or too broad at this point. We cannot tell what kind of shrine the cephalopods would create without knowing about their culture or the desires of their microbes. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Consider rephrasing from "what shrine for their gods" which is opinion-based to "what would a city for microbes with characteristics $x$, $y$, and $z$ look like with technology level $a$?" $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ Key data missing: What structures are the cephalopods capable of building? Does the microbial computer create structures themselves? Would this shrine/city be for the microbes to occupy or for the cephs to use in worship activities? What exactly is a "symbolic" city? $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 4:36

2 Answers 2


Coral Reefs

Microbes favor structures with a large surface area. To increase the surface area, a rough structure is very good. On earth, corals build such structures by creating a hard, cement-like shell for their tiny fragile bodies. When they die, they leave a very porous and hard object we know as the colorful corals like the Great Barrier Reef.

In addition, the cephalopods will gain quite a lot space to hide between the stems and caves of the coral reef, allowing some (priest) of them to live inside their god!


Unfortunately for the supercomputing bacteria, worshipers build things that the worshipers think is useful, not what the god itself wants. Even specific orders, like Yahweh commanding the ark of the covenant or the Temple of Solomon ends up more "inspiring" their charge the right direction, not providing detailed plans.

So, without tools, what would semi-intelligent cuttlefish and octopi make for their gods?

Ink clouds and structures of mucus.

First off, they don't have tools, so they'll need to figure something out without being able to build things with tooling. They would be thinking of things useful to them... while also constructing things which bring themselves pleasure (because most temples are designed to wow their followers as well).

Ink clouds, shaped into specific forms as they dissipate would be a beautiful, if pointless to their gods, form of worship; the brain's own "numinous" circuits would reward the animals for producing these beautiful forms.

Structures of mucus, however, would be way more useful to the bacteria in building films and other organized structures. They could manipulate the religious sensibilities of the critters to make the macro-structures in the form they require, while handling the lower level stuff themselves.


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