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  1. Consolidating my notes on the graleen and making them available before I try to bang out a guidebook entry. The Graleen Synopsis The graleen are uniform in their intentions and those intentions allow for only annihilation or subjugation of those who are not graleen. Terrans might describe them as insectoid as their forms have superficial similarities to hymenoptera from earth. There are many slurs for 'the bugs', as the standard galactic response to a graleen infestation is a swift and certain extermination before their colonies can spread. They are voracious in their intentions to expand and respect no treaties and no laws other than their own. It would be easier to deal with any threat posed if they were mindless but the hive mind of the graleen is driven by a fierce, malevolent intelligence. GM Notes The graleen are freely available for go to antagonists in space adventures. For analogs in existing fiction, see the tyranids of the Warhammer 40K series, or reapers from Mass Effect in their behavior, or even echoes of the Borg from Star Trek. They have no sense of individuality, but instead are a networked hive intelligence. There is no 'I', only 'we'. Necessarily, any PCs from the graleen would have to be mutations of one stripe or another, separate from the malevolent group conscious that drives the urges to expand and conquer. Need to create template NPCs for various levels: Scouts: small sub-groups of colonies sent out to scout potential worlds for harvest by the species. Drones: henchmen sorts, for dealing with masses of them at a time Workers: larger scale threats, akin to bosses directing drones Warriors: big threats, designed for a group to deal with a single warrior Thralls: non-graleen species that have been psychically enthralled Also need to flesh out ones that are more focused on honing/using their psychic abilities rather than physical ones. Don't have a good name for those yet. Biology The chitinous plating of the graleen isn't a true exoskeleton although it has been mistaken for such in the past. The graleen have, in fact, an endoskeleton although it is lighter and thinner than their terran equivalents. Due to the peculiarities of their species, there is a wide variety in appearance depending on the role the graleen has in the colony. Scouts, for example, are typically sleek and smaller than the drones, with fully functional wings. Warriors are much more massive, with far thicker plating and only vestigial wing nubs. They are humanoid in size, standing on two legs, with four limbs ending in three fingered hands, capable of fine manipulation. They may or may not have a stinger in their tail which, to be honest, is more akin to a scorpion than a wasp in its make up. Their face is also humanoid, although rounder and flatter than any actual terran, with large compound eyes and antenna sprouting from their brow and a mouth full of very, very sharp teeth. They are entirely carnivorous as a species, although its entirely possible for one to survive on synthesized rations, provided they had the correct proteins.
  2. Nameless District ('Bugtown') Location: Coalition Victory Station, Kesteven 79 After the Nameless were exposed during the Incursion three Terran years ago, the enigmatic cyborgs had to face the reality that no one trusted them, even after several of them aided the fledgling Coalition during the fighting. But it soon became clear that, due to the insidious way they'd wormed their way into the very fabric of the Republic, it would be far easier to come to some sort of terms with them than try to root them out. One of the terms that was negotiated was that the Nameless had to turn over all the illegally obtained goods they'd acquired over the years, including any property held on any Lor worlds. Not every agent did this, of course, or they only turned over some and kept others hidden. But overall, the effect left nearly a thousand sentient creatures effectively homeless. When the Communion mothership was being converted into Coalition Victory Station, it was decided that an area should be set aside for their use, and so a large section was chosen near the waste treatment facilities. It was chosen for two reasons: one, the presence of so much decaying matter created large quantities of methane, the natural atmosphere of the Nameless pilots, and two, no one really liked or trusted the enigmatic creatures, so metaphorically sticking them in the ship's posterior seemed very appropriate. However, the Nameless don't really mind; as a hive species, they have no issues with cramped quarters, and being tucked out of sight and out of mind in a way gave them a lot of freedom. 'Bugtown', as this enclave is often called, is divided between three decks, locally referred to as 'the Market', 'the Lower Berths' and 'the Hives'; each area serves a specific function, and feels very different from the others. The Market is a maze-like area set aside for the Nameless shells to both stretch their legs and interact with other races; it features small nightclubs, restaurants, several legitimate businesses, and tucked away in the darker corners, a few 'specialty shops' with no names that offer illegal services. The Republic officially denounces this 'warren of vice and crime', while its elected officials often come here in secret. The Lower Berths are where the Nameless shells go during their downtime; each agent is provided a small individual berth, not unlike the Japanese capsule hotels, typically 2m x 1.25m x 1m, though the larger Tac shells often require special accommodation. While row upon row of 'cells' might seem confining to most Lor or humans, the Nameless do not find them so, especially since they spend most of their time in their berths either recharging in rest cycle or connecting with each other via telepathy or ShellNet, a powerful, private wireless network. Storage space for changes of clothing is provided in each berth, while shell cleaning and maintenance are done in large public sanitary stations. The Hives are kept far from the sight of other races; it is here that the Nameless pilots may come out of their shells to mingle freely among their hivemates in large, deep chambers full of methane gas. There are three sets of chambers here, but one currently goes unused, because the Third Hive went into hiding after the Nameless were exposed during the Incursion, though it still awaits them if they ever chose to claim it. The Tertians and their queen are currently in parts unknown somewhere within the Republic, posing a constant threat. The Hives are also used for reproduction and the rearing of the young prior to them receiving their first shell. The two queens who are currently in residence are under constant monitoring and protection for their own safety. Note: Nameless shells are not produced anywhere on CoVic Station; they are assembled at a remote facility somewhere in Lor space, the location of which is one of the most tightly guarded secrets in the galaxy.
  3. Nameless District ('Bugtown') Location: Coalition Victory Station, Kesteven 79 After the Nameless were exposed during the Incursion three Terran years ago, the enigmatic cyborgs had to face the reality that no one trusted them, even after several of them aided the fledgling Coalition during the fighting. But it soon became clear that, due to the insidious way they'd wormed their way into the very fabric of the Republic, it would be far easier to come to some sort of terms than to root them out. One of the terms that were negotiated was that they had to turn over all the illegally obtained goods they'd acquired over the years, including any property held on any Lor worlds. Not every agent did this, of course, or they only turned over some and kept others hidden. But overall, the effect left nearly a thousand sentient creatures effectively homeless. When the Communion mothership was being converted into Coalition Victory Station, it was decided that an area should be set aside for their use, and a large section was chosen near the waste treatment facilities. It was chosen for two reasons: one, the presence of so much decaying matter created large quantities of methane, the natural atmosphere of the Nameless pilots, and two, no one really liked or trusted the enigmatic creatures, so metaphorically sticking them in the ship's posterior seemed very appropriate. However, the Nameless don't really mind; as a hive species, they have no issues with cramped quarters, and being tucked out of sight and out of mind in a way gave them a lot of freedom. Bugtown is divided between three decks, locally referred to as the Market, the Lower Berths and the Hives; each area serves a specific function, and feels very different from each other. The Market is a maze-like area set aside for the Nameless shells to both stretch their legs and interact with other races; it features small nightclubs, restaurants, and tucked away in the darker corners, a few 'specialty shops' with no names that offer illegal services. The Republic officially denounces this 'warren of vice and crime', while its elected officials often come here in secret. The Lower Berths are where the Nameless shells go during their downtime; each agent is provided a small individual berth, not unlike the Japanese capsule hotels, typically 2.5m x 1.5m x 1.5m, though the larger Tac shells often require special accommodation. While rows and rows of 'cells' might seem confining to most Lor or humans, the Nameless do not find them so, especially since they spend most of their time in their berths either recharging in rest cycle or connecting with each other via telepathy or ShellNet, a powerful, private wireless network. Storage space for changes of clothing is provided in each berth, while shell cleaning and maintenance are done in large public sanitary stations. The Hives are kept far from the sight of other races; it is here that the Nameless pilots may come out of their shells to mingle freely among their hivemates in large, deep chambers full of methane gas. There are three sets of chambers here, but one currently goes unused, because the Third Hive went into hiding after the Nameless were exposed during the Incursion, though it still awaits them if they ever chose to claim it. The Tertians and their queen are currently in parts unknown somewhere within the Republic, posing a constant threat. The Hives are also used for reproduction and the rearing of the young prior to them receiving their first shell. The two queens who are currently in residence are under constant monitoring and protection for their own safety. Note: Nameless shells are not produced anywhere on CoVic Station; they are assembled at a remote facility somewhere in Lor space, the location of which is one of the most tightly guarded secrets in the galaxy.
  4. THE NAMELESS (aka ‘Bugs’) The Nameless are a bioengineered race that was designed for infiltrating galactic empires and systems such as the Lor Republic; they were modified so long ago, they barely remember their homeworld, though they do tell the story of how they turned on the race that created them (known only in legends as ‘the Harvesters’) to win their freedom. The Nameless successfully lived within the Republic for almost two hundred years, slowly plotting and accumulating wealth and power before they were discovered, but by that time, though their numbers were small, they held powerful positions throughout all layers of society, and a purge might be catastrophic. So an uneasy peace was negotiated, with all known Nameless agents relinquishing their holdings and revealing themselves to the Republic. Though they will never be fully trusted, the Nameless have since proven themselves to be loyal and hardworking…at least as long as someone is watching. And of course, not every agent revealed their identity. A Nameless agent consists of two parts, a ‘pilot’ and a ‘shell’. The pilot is a dark chitinous creature like a centipede as thick and as long as a human arm, with a long venomous spike for a tail; they were originally a hive species come from a high gravity planet and breathe methane, as well as requiring trace amounts of various toxic elements to survive. The pilot coils it up in the belly of a robotic humanoid shell that is physically indistinguishable from a Lor or other humanoid race (depending on the model), with a head full of cloned brain matter to help translate its alien thoughts into understandable speech and behavior; the shell also boosts the pilot's natural telepathic abilities. In addition to allowing the bugs to survive in a terrestrial atmosphere, the shells often contain hidden weapons or communication devices useful for their work. Among humanoids, a Nameless agent will eat regular food, which is allowed to decompose in a special internal chamber, providing the methane they need to survive; however the shell is also used to intake a bewildering variety of substances for trace elements, so it's not uncommon for a bug to be seen eating eggshells, old batteries or lint. This bizarre diet has been the source of much interspecies humor, not all of it polite. It should also be noted that a pilot can abandon its shell for another by climbing up the throat and entering the mouth of another shell; few outside of the Nameless have seen this disturbing Cronenbergian phenomena, and it is not a sight soon forgotten. It is also therefore possible for a pilot to use another's shell, in essence hijacking it; since most elements of the created humanoid personality are housed in the shell's brain matter, it can theoretically be very hard to tell who's really who when addressing a shell. Predatory creatures before the development of the shell technology, the Nameless still show much of their biological legacy; though they've developed a great deal of affection for the humanoids they've lived amongst for all these years, they still enjoy toying with them like a cat with a mouse, or pulling the wool over a rube's eyes. These tendencies have not gone unnoticed, and prejudice against the ‘bugs’ is very common among intelligent species. WHY ARE THEY CALLED THE NAMELESS? In part, it's because as a race, they have a flair for the theatrical, but much of it comes from their being a telepathic hive species. The Nameless had no name for themselves and no spoken language prior to the genetic manipulation by the Harvesters, and little concept of individual identity; each 'pilot' is only identified by a memory, the earliest mental contact they had with another sentient being that is almost impossible to translate to non-telepaths. When dealing with humanoids, it's just easier to just use the designation given to the individual shells; each model has one of a handful of names (Ditra, Zandar, etc) followed by an individual serial number from 001 to 999. THE FOUR NAMELESS SHELL TEMPLATES The Astrogators (Blue-skinned, 'Astros', 'Blues') - Masters of astrogation, technology and mathematics, Astros are hard to get to know; some humanoids genuinely dislike these seemingly cold individuals, who display behavior similar to humans at the far end of the autism scale. Not all use their skills for piloting, however; many are researchers, technicians and designers without peer. Astros rarely interact with the general public. The Diplomats (Green-skinned, 'Diplos', 'Greens') - Outgoing, friendly and universally attractive, just about everyone likes hanging out with Diplos; skilled in a wide variety of social sciences and experts at reading body language, these agents always seem to know the right thing to say. They can also change their hair, skin and eye colors to better fit in with other humanoid races. While they make excellent spokespersons and negotiators, many Diplos are wonderful doctors, therapists and writers. The Infiltrators (Pink-skinned, 'Infils', 'Pinks') - Shapeshifters and true masters of telepathy, Infils are what most people think of when they hear the term 'Nameless'; manipulative spies with changeable bodies moving effortlessly through the Lor population. Though their skills would seem tailor made for security and espionage, many Infils can also be found in the visual and performing arts, though rarely openly. The Tacticals (Gold-skinned, 'Tacs', 'Golds') - Huge and menacing, Tacs are the front-line warriors of the Nameless; built for strength and durability, most Tacs incorporate extensive internal weapon systems, and can frequently fly, shoot death rays from their hands and genuinely kick serious ass. However few of these giants are actually as fierce as they first appear, and their humble demeanor is a source of calm on the battlefield, though they also patiently toil in low-g factories and on hydroponic farms. NAMELESS HIVES To the Nameless, your hive is your family, a source of strength through belonging. As a telepathic species, they can connect in ways many other races can't, forming mental networks when in close proximity; these networks allow for the rapid sharing of information, ideas and feelings, and a powerful sense of connection. Hive mates look out for one another, to the point that refusing to aid one in need is a crime punishable by the mandatory destruction of a pilot's shell. However rivalries between hives are common, and they tend to methodical, Byzantine and very nasty. At one time, membership in a Nameless hive was purely a matter of biology; a pilot remained in the hive of its birth. But with the loss of most of two hives during the Incursion, including the deaths of both queens, there was a great deal of disorganization and realignment, with the remaining three hives absorbing the orphaned pilots. In time, the three hives began to take on a more symbolic and ideological function, with each associated with a particular moral and political philosophy, primarily based on how they chose to interact with outsiders. This led to a great numbers of members switching hives, until now they are more or less uniform in outlook, though of course every family has its black sheep. THE THREE HIVES The First Hive is the most conservative, and its members were the first to reveal their identities, turn over their possessions and swear allegence to the Republic; most of its members are currently Astro and Tac models, with a few Diplos and only a handful of Infils. They are very loyal and hardworking, and see members of the Second Hive to be either lazy or naive, and the Third to be dangerous radicals who thoughtlessly jeopardize the life they fought for in the Republic. The Second Hive is more moderate, typically looking to follow the 'middle path'; they appreciate the Republic, but see the Coalition as offering a very appealing alternative. They include a fairly even distribution of models, but somewhat fewer Tacs and Infils. While they politely disagree with the First Hive, they can still treat them respectfully, but they consider the Tertians to be a major threat to the all sentient life, and actively oppose them. The Third Hive is by far the most radical, convinced that the Lor will never fully trust them, so they'd best prepare for war or make themselves rich, depending on how idealistic or cynical they are in their philosophy. Thankfully the smallest hive, it has almost no Diplos, a handful of unbalanced Astros, a solid corps of Tacs and a lot of Infils. They see First Hivers as pathetic 'Uncle Toms', and members of the Second as cowards too scared to fight for their own race. Members of this hive are sometimes refered to as 'Tertians', or more dramatically 'the Tertian threat'.
  5. THE NAMELESS (aka ‘Bugs’) The Nameless are a bioengineered race that was designed for infiltrating galactic empires such as the Lor; they were modified so long ago, they barely remember their homeworld, though they do tell the story of how they turned on the race that created them (known only in legends as ‘the Harvesters’) to win their freedom. The Nameless successfully lived within the Empire for almost two hundred years, slowly plotting and accumulating wealth and power before they were discovered, but by that time though their numbers were small they held powerful positions throughout all layers of society, and a purge might be catastrophic. So an uneasy peace was negotiated, with all Nameless agents relinquishing their holdings and revealing themselves to the Empire. Though they will never be fully trusted, the Nameless have since proven themselves to be loyal and hardworking…at least as long as someone is watching. A Nameless agent consists of two parts, a ‘pilot’ and a ‘shell’. The pilot is a dark chitinous creature like a centipede as thick and as long as human arm, with a long venomous spike for a tail; they originally come from a high-gravity planet and breathe methane, as well as requiring trace amounts of various toxic elements to survive. The pilot coils it up in the belly of a robotic humanoid shell that is physically indistinguishable from a Lor or other humanoid race (depending on the model), with a head full of cloned brain matter to help translate its alien thoughts into understandable speech and behavior; the shell also boosts the pilot's natural telepathic abilities. In addition to allowing the bugs to survive in a terrestrial atmosphere, the shells often contain hidden weapons or communication devices useful for their work. Among humanoids, a Nameless agent will eat regular food, which is allowed to decompose in a special internal chamber, providing the methane they need to survive; however the shell is also used to intake a bewildering variety of substances for trace elements, so it's not uncommon for a bug to be seen eating eggshells, old batteries or lint. This bizarre diet has been the source of much inter-species humor over the years. It should also be noted that a pilot can abandon its shell for another by climbing up the throat and entering the mouth of another shell; few outside of the Nameless have seen this disturbing Cronenbergian phenomena, and it is not a sight soon forgotten. It is also therefore possible for a pilot to use another's shell, in essence hijacking it; since most elements of the created humanoid personality are housed in the shell's brain matter, it can theoretically be very hard to tell who's really who when addressing a shell. Predatory creatures before the development of the shell technology, the Nameless still show much of their biological legacy; though they've developed a great deal of affection for the humanoids they've lived amongst for all these years, they still enjoy toying with them like a cat with a mouse, or pulling the wool over a rube's eyes. These tendencies have not gone unnoticed, and prejudice against the ‘bugs’ is very common among intelligent species. THE FOUR NAMELESS SHELL TEMPLATES The Astro (Blue-skinned) - Masters of astrogation, technology and mathematics, Astros are hard to get to know; some humans genuinely dislike these seemingly cold individuals, who display behavior similar to humans at the far end of the autism scale. Not all use their skills for piloting, however; many are researchers, technicians and designers without peer. Astros rarely interact with the general public. The Diplo (Green-skinned) - Outgoing, friendly and universally attractive, just about everyone likes hanging out with Diplos; skilled in a wide variety of social sciences and experts at reading body language, these agents always seem to know the right thing to say. They can also change their hair, skin and eye colors to better fit in with other humanoid races. While they make excellent spokespersons and negotiators, many Diplos are wonderful doctors, therapists and writers. The Infil (Pink-skinned) - Shapeshifters and true masters of telepathy, Infils are what most people think of when they hear the term 'Nameless'; manipulative spies with changeable bodies moving effortlessly through the human population. Though their skills would seem tailor made for security and espionage, many Infils can also be found in the visual and performing arts, though rarely openly. The Tac (Gold-skinned) - Huge and menacing, Tacs are the front-line warriors of the Nameless; built for strength and durability, most Tacs incorporate extensive internal weapon systems, and can frequently fly, shoot death rays from their hands and genuinely kick serious ass. However few of these giants are actually as fierce as they first appear, and their humble demeanor is a source of calm on the battlefield, though they also patiently toil in low-g factories and on hydroponic farms.
  6. Andromedans Overview Andromedans is not their real name. In fact, it is not even certain if they have a name as we can understand it. If they do have one, then it is one humans (and most sentient species) cannot properly pronounce. As the name implies, Andromedans are native of the Andromeda Galaxy, where they originated from and thrive. In terms of general physiology, Andromedans are a very varied species, with distinct castes so different in appearance one would assume they are a completely different race that evolved on a different planet. A rough overview of them would generally describe them as a mixture of insectoid, crustacean and dinosaur characteristics. They frequently have mandibles and multiple eyes. As a society, Andromedans are organized into Broods, which usually share some small common physical or psychological characteristic. Broods can be mobile and fleet-based or established on certain worlds. Some are more violent than others. There is no general pattern to them. History As previously mentioned, Andromedans are native of the Andromeda galaxy. It is unknown if they are a species that naturally evolved or was uplifted by something else. It is also possible their unique characteristics are the result of extreme self-imposed eugenics and genetic modifications. Since very little is known of what was and is happening in the Andromeda galaxy, much of the Andromedans history is a complete mystery. The Andromedans who live in the Milky Way are either refugee or pioneers. They arrived roughly four thousands years ago and primarily dwell at the edges of the galaxy. Over time, they have clashed with several native species. Physiology Andromedans are a physically varied lot, so much that their varied castes might look as completely different species to most onlookers. It is unknown how many unique castes exist. To further confound matters, there are castes unique to different broods. Because they are such a poorly understood species, Andromedans reproduction is a mystery As such it is unknown how these castes are decided. For simplicity's sake, Andromedans castes are initially broken down by the general shape of the body, most with the option of with or without wings: Slug-like. Snake/worm-like. Snake/worm-like with two/four/six forelimbs. Quadrupedal Hexapedal Hexapedal with two/four forelimbs/four-armed biped. Octopedal Other. Furthermore, these body shapes are further divided by size and/or level of intelligence. Most of these castes are relatively unintelligent, merely drones specially bred for a certain type of task. Their intelligent is only complex enough to allow them to carry their tasks. These tasks range from simple manual labors to food processing to spaceship navigation. The true rulers of the Andromedans are those who possess human and above-level intelligence. These Andromedans occupy functions such as overseers, generals, engineers, biologists, scientists and even (apparently) philosophers. It is unknown if the Queens are actually leaders, simple breeders or if they possess a very complex role within the Andromedans hierarchy. That is assuming they DO have queens, as rumoured. Andromedans are capable of rapid evolution and adaptation, making them able to adapt to just about any environment. It is because of this ability that they have clashed far less with other sentients species than one might expect, as they often live in worlds inhospitable to other carbon-based lifeforms. While not (always) an angry swarm intent on assimilating other species, there have been times where Andromedans have attempted to acquire members of other species in order to assimilate their essence and genetic material in order to adapt and grow stronger. One has to wonder what would happen if they knew about earth's diverse superhuman population. Psychology Much like their physiology and history, there is much to the Andromedan's psychology that is unknown to other species. It is generally understood that they are a callous, aggressive species with a very strong territorial instinct. It is also known that despite their hive mentality, they are capable of in-fighting within a brood. However, the most common form of Andromedan wars are inter-brood rivalries akin to a spatial ant war. As a whole, those of their kind who possess free will (or at least enough self-awareness) are strongly motivated by interests, either their own or that of their brood as a whole. Survival of the fittest is an apt descriptor of it. In fact, to them, their complex political games are nothing more than a refined version of a predator's 'kill or be killed' mentality. Not that they ever really feel like explaining that to non-andromedans. Technology As a species, they are technologically advanced albeit mostly in the area of genetics, due to their expertise in molding their own physiology. Andromedans possess spaceships and FTL like any space-faring species, however in other areas some would argue they are lacking. The reason for this is simple; because of drones designed for specific purpose, Andromedans have little need for some of the more advanced technologies, making them appear somewhat lopsided. They have absolutely no concept of automation, for example; everything is done manually by specially bred drones. Weapons, while they exist, are not as common as with other species since most Andromedans who are designed even remotely to expect conflict have means to defend themselves. While Andromedans do use metal they harvest in their constructions, it is mixed with the chitin they produce. FTL is achieved thanks to specially bred castes of drones with immense psionic potential, able to fold space. It is a sign of their lopsided technology and mentality that these drones have little to no intelligence despite their large psionic potential. These being are completely incapable of complex thought and reasoning, despite being massive psionic 'computer's able to calculate distortions in time and space. These ridiculously complex tasks are the only thing they are capable of thinking. Motivations & Goals Andromedans, while expansionist, seems often more motivated by their own inter-brood squabblings. This is generally considered a good thing since they would pose a far more serious and immediate threat to the galaxy if they felt like conquering it. Because of their constant political shifts (over reasons human brains could likely not even grasp or fathom), it is fairly easy for them to come into conflict with other races. So-called 'Bug Wars' are the most common of these scenarios, where Andromedans descend upon entire systems as angry locusts. What few understand is that those raids actually serve a simple purpose. To them, Andromedans appears as mindless hungry space vermin. This is because they never negotiate with other species, and as such, few ever see their leaders making them appear as some ravenous, faceless hivemind. In reality, when Andromedans resort to this it means they require either massive amounts of resources to fuel their wars or are looking for something in particular to turn the tides. Either way, these are always messy and bloody events. The other most likely scenario is that Andromedans have found a way to manipulate someone or something into doing their dirty work, usually by finding a way to send someone to fight a rival Brood and in the process weaken it. Finally, it is also possible to encounter lone Andromedan ships who travel around the galaxy, looking for unique and exotic specimens to dissect and assimilate. Notable Broods and Individuals Orion Brood: The primary brood found within the Orion Arm and thus the one closest to earth. Has remained relatively quiet for now. Za'ak Brood: The most primal of the broods in the Milky Way, Za'ak Brood thrives on the most dangerous and feral of worlds. These worlds have deadly ecosystems, making them nearly impossible to settle on short of simply destroying it. Yet the Andromedans of this brood have made them their homes and in doing so have taken on many animalistic traits. Their name come from their homeworld of Za'ak. The Fleshshaper: A rogue Andromedan 'genetic engineer' and 'evolutionist'. Has left his brood for unknown reasons and travel with an entourage of minions. Since he is cut from his brood, his Andromedans minions are in fact clones bound to his will, something that isn't very approved of for his kind, especially on a rogue element. Design Notes Andromedans were developped and designed to fit within the science-fiction trope of 'bug alien', like the Tyranids and the Zergs. However, I've also written them to be actually interesting as characters and not just a faceless alien menace. There might be some more unusual/splinter broods/offshoots around the galaxy who may or may not have degenerated. Overall, I like to think they are just generic enough to allow some variation within them.
  7. Contents 01 - >An Introduction 02 - Minions (Sorted By Type and Alphabetically) 02.a - Alien Minions 02.b - Animal Minions 02.c - Demonic Minions >Elephant Ogre (PL10) >Jiangshi (PL8) >Headless Knight (PL8) >Winged Hellhound (PL5) 02.d - Humanoid Minions 02.e - Monster Minions 03 - Setting Shop >Umiquan Empire (Umiquan Army[Umiquan Soldier - PL6, Umiquan Sniper - PL6, Umiquan Hydromancer - PL6]) DISCLAIMER: Everything herein is my personal advice, and in no way or form constitutes official/canonical statements or necessarily reflects the views of the Moderators and Admins.
  8. Za'akis The Za'akis (literaly 'People of the Earth', in the sense of earth as ground, not the planet) are a species of warm-blooded bipeds. They are similar in some aspects to earth mammal taxon of Prototheria, making them egg-layers. Za'akis are native to the world of Za'ak, which was named after it's people. Previous to the Za'akis expansion into space the planet had no officially recognized name, often bearing a simple designation of digits. Za'akis evolved and thrived on a planet notorious for it's deadly environment. When integrated into the Delaztri Empire, they were uplifted and served as shock troops and enforcers. While records during this era are sketchy, it is assumed that only less than twenty percent of their population served outside of military and law-enforcement branches. Following the collapse of the Delaztri and the occupation of their homeworld by the Andromedans, the Za'akis scattered across the galaxy and some of them can be found amongst the Stellar Khanate. Biology Za'akis biology, on the surface, appears very similar to that of many alien species. They have two eyes, two arms and two legs. Some Lor theorized they might be the result of hybridation between Ancient Lor and another species inhabiting Za'ak but to this day there are no proof of this theory, despite it's popularity amongst many scholars. Despite the common image of them as feral and brutish warriors, Za'akis are not particularly massive, with an average height very similar to Lor and humans. While muscular, they aren't particularly so. Their low body fat and hardened body make them appear particularly muscular but overall the muscle mass is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, as a whole, unlike many of Za'ak species they have not evolved for strength and size but rather for speed and endurance. It i assumed their ancestors were pack-based hunters and scavengers who relied on their smaller size and greater manual dexterity to survive. Facially they resemble most humanoids species and are varied in their appearance. However, their bodies are completely hairless. Instead of cutting and styling their hair, Za'akis decorate their head crests, which are bony ridges on their brow and skull, which descend down their neck and their spine. Smaller ridges exist on their feet, hands and forearms. A few Za'akis display more unusual configurations in their ridges, such as ridges extending into short horn-like structures or having ridges and spines on their brow or chin. Ears are entirely internal and only appear as slits on the side of their heads, surrounded by spiky outgrowths. Their eyes vary in color, usually in shades of red, yellow, orange and yellowish-green green with the vary rare green. They are capable of seeing the infrared spectrum and track preys based on their heat signature. Skin pigmentation is varied, from green to blue of any shade. Za'akis skin is naturally hard and callous. While soft at birth, it harden during their growth and they become fully armored around the same time they reach sexual maturity around the age of fifteen earth years. Their skin serve the double function of protecting them from harm and regulating their body temperature. Fluids and glands under their skin and in their torso are exceedingly efficient at both regulating their temperature as well as functioning as something akin to antibodies. As a result, Za'akis are nearly immune to most known disease and poisons from birth. Growth and Reproduction Za'akis reproduce by laying eggs in clutches of three to six. At birth, newborn Za'akis have soft, pale rubbery skin. The skin change and darken to it's natural color as the child age. As the child enter it's first growth spurt, their skin harden and their ridges appear. Back on their homeworld, those who failed to develop their armored hide were usually killed by beasts. After their uplifting, these later bloomers usually survived but often end up mocked by their peers. By the time a Za'akis has reached sexual maturity, it's skin has finished hardening. In term of growth and lifespan, Za'akis age at roughly the same rate as humans and can live to around a hundred years, althought truly exceptional specimens go as far as a hundred fifty. Before they were uplifted by the Delaztri, their maximum lifespan was generally shorter. The extreme conditions on their planet, however, meant that very few individuals ever lived long. Ancient History It is a known and established fact that Za'akis civilization was already old when Kharag began his unification. Traces of said civilizations, having gathered in primitive cities go back to the 8th millenium before christ (when using Earth's calendar that is) at a minimum and possibly earlier. They had already discovered bronze and invented writing by then, if not earlier. Due to it's harsh environment, it is difficult to study Za'ak's past with any certainty. Modern History Following the fall of Za'ak to the Andromedans, the Za'akis people have been scattered. Countless died during the fall of their homeworld, but the size of the Za'akis diaspora and their quick breeding rate ensured the survival of the species. Za'akis can be found in many places across the galaxy, usually as isolated worlds or a cluster of worlds. These worlds are almost always under the control of a Great House, which is their main political unit. While the Za'akis plays overall little to no role in galactic politics, they remain a constant problem to many races as they have a tendency to default to conquest and pirating to acquire what they need. Some Za'akis are members of the Lor Republic while others live in communities alongside other races, usually working as hired muscles or being used for physical labor. The largest population of non-Housed Za'akis is found in the Stellar Khanate. Culture The conditions on Za'ak have shaped the Za'akis and even to this day, they remain harsh and predatory people. While far from mere savages, Za'akis are often naturally blunt and simple people, prefering the most direct solution to a problem. One core aspect of their culture is self-perfection and glory; since survival was the primary imperative on Za'ak, one's social worth is most often derived from their skill and deed. While it previously mostly meant activities such as hunting and fighting, the multiple social, cultural and economic revolutions the Za'akis underwent mean that it is no longer the case. Even then, amongst Za'akis intellectuals and artists, there is still a very harsh competition. It should be noted that to them there is no shame in losing a contest as it does not erase previous achievements. This is why challenging a superior in battle and winning in single combat didn't automatically granted the winner the title and position; said victory had to be backed up by a sufficient amount of people who recognized the legimacy of the winner. Should the crowd decide to side with the defeated, there was no consequence for the winner. Honor dictated that the winner be given a sufficient prize and be spared. The loser, despite support, could also choose to yield to the winner, in which case the crowd would have no choice but to accept the winner. While it may seem to an outside that such practice defeat the purpose an contradict their 'might make right' philophy, in practice few would even bother challenging their superior unless they knew they would have the support of the majority. These practices are no longer used in Za'akis politics on many worlds, but some do maintain them. When it come to honor, Za'akis could be easily misunderstood as easily-angered death seeker, eager to take the most foolish and otherwise impressive option. However that is not true; while certainly glory-seeking by nature, such attitude is one that will weed out the least intelligent (and lucky) of their kind. Za'akis can and will retreat from situations where they are a distinct disadvantage, it is simply that their more risk-taking than humans by nature and the margin for what is wise and what isn't can come off as much thinner. On a related note, Za'akis are perfectly able to use underhanded tactics, however, with these one must understand the taboo; it is only acceptable to use underhanded and honorless tactics if your opponent is equally without honor, as fighting with a strict code an opponent who has none would be suicide. Pre-spaceflight Za'akis made it tradition to wear what they killed. While such practice still exist today, they are less common. Instead, such tradition is homaged in how the Za'akis dress; while they use the same materials as other space civilizations, their clothes are patterned to mimic leather and scales. Headress, while more subtle, often have stripes or patterns that hint at the shape of a bestial skull. Ancient tribal markings also adorn their clothes, weapons and ships. Contact with species who posses hair has created an interesting phenomena, with Za'akis attempting to mimic hair by using animal fur, which is braided and held to their cranial ridge via piercings, creating braids and locks of various color. Za'akis names are mostly unisex and tend to follow certain patterns, especially along ethnic groups. Typical names include; Ghandak, Mohnak, Nashra, Sorahk, Thursk, Khresh, Gulgha, Horakk, Tarizi, Siviris, Atariz, Vitriz and Matsrivi. The Clans Za'akis have always gathered, in their history, into extended families as a mean of survival. Thus, it is of absolutely of no surprise to anyone that such a social structure has survived even after their exile from their home planet and the collapse of the Delaztri empire. Clan is an apt, but somewhat incorrect description as the Za'akis would point out that the modern form of it evolved from various pre-existing cultures dating back to their pre-spaceflight days. Modern clans, sometime called houses or Great Clans are the main political unit of Za'akis society. A Great Clan is formed of many smaller clans and family united under a same banner. Some clans are tied to specific pre-existing cultures from their pre-spaceflight days while others are more cosmopolitan, having formed after the Za'akis scattered across the stars. The amount of social mobility depends heavily on the clan; some are fairly open-minded, allowing one to choose his path so long as he (or she) is capable of exercing it well, while others are more feudal in nature, with a strict warrior class composed of members of the ruling families, with the families handling the rest of the work. In such clans, the lower class warriors are held as a distinct social class. Oathbound Exile Many Za'akis encountered across the galaxy are exiled from their homeworlds and Za'akis space in general. These individuals have undertaken specific oaths, which excludes them from Za'akis society, making them akin to Knight Errants and Ronin. The reasons for undertaking such an oath are numerous. The most commonly accepted one is, of course, a failure of some kind. The individual is spared from death but exiled from their homes to undergo a certain task or die trying. Sometimes, the punishment is put on an entire family or bloodline, such as having all firstborn son sent to exile upon adulthood. These oaths have often been put in place in order to limit Za'akis population, as life outside of their homeworld has greatly increased their chances of survival and can cause some problem with overpopulation. Some individuals, however, undertake the oath willingly, in hope of achieving greatness and being welcomed back into society. Such returns are very rare but when they do happen these individuals are hailed as amongst the greatest heroes of the race. All Za'akis sent on such exile are invariably warriors. If they aren't (or rather, aren't competent warrior as all Za'akis are expected to know how to defend themselves) it is expected of them to become one during their exile. By tradition, it is forbidden for an exiled Za'akis to mate but many break the rules. When such children are found within Za'akis society, they themselves inherit the oath and must continue their parent's work. Different oaths fulfill different purposes and come with different codes of conduct for the individual. Those who are exiled in such way are tattooed or scarred in specific ways that mark them as outsiders to be shunned by the other Za'akis. A common loophole used is that nothing says marked individuals can't cooperate with others, sometime forming bands that travel the galaxies as heroes or as brutal raiders. The most common oath is called the Oath of Reclamation. It is an oath to go and retake Za'ak from the Andromedans. To this day, no one ever returned. Religion Za'akis have remained spiritual people despite many of them being now agnostic. Ancestral cults are still maintainned even when beliefs in gods and spirits have been somewhat abandonned or simplified. In the modern age, the most common religions are, when organized in wide groups; Polytheism: Polytheism has remain quite strong and popular amongst the Za'akis. It is not uncommon to find populations of Za'akis worshipping gods associated with aspects of the world and society. The gods worshipped by polytheists include those listed below, such as Ravvok and Hanak-Kalak. Perfection Cults: A wide array of cults, sects and beliefs built upon the Za'akis belief of self-perfection. While the ancient God-King Kharag is not directly worshipped or even acknowledge as a god, he is often cited as an example. These Cults believe that he and other heroes, both mythological and historical, achieved a form of transcendance via self-perfection. These cults are nearly all practice some form of martial art. They range from pacifists to hedonists to raging berserkers. Ancestral Cults: More tied to the animistic beliefs of the Ancient Za'akis, these cults worship their ancestors. These cults are fairly varied, ranging from simple observance of yearly rites to more complex beliefs involving the afterlife and how to access it, usually via a certain way of life. Others involve heavy use of genealogy and arranged marriage, making it a certain form of eugenism, which is more and more frowned upon in Za'akis society. Priesthood For most Za'akis religion, anyone can become a priest. The Za'akis term for priest can be translated tospeaker. A priest is someone who speak, both with the divine and material and act very much as a community leader which is not strictly bound to any clan (althought it isn't to say priests are truly neutral, many can be biased). What rituals they perform vary heavily depending on the nature and dogma. Priest can come from any walk of life and can be of any gender. How and why one become a priest can vary immensely; some choose to become priests the same way one choose any craft or work. Other priests are chosen, not by the gods but by their community. While the concept of deeds for Za'akis is often related to martial honor and prowess, one can also cut itself above the crowd with their wisdom. Such individuals earn the deep respect of their communities and are asked to become priests. One is not obligated to agree but it is considered an honor. Becoming a priest is one of the few position in Za'akis society that is absolutely not tied to any challenge as there is generally no hiearchy to it. Anyone who is a priest will always remain one. Any spcific position such as the head and protector of a temple is to be merely passed on, not fought over. The one currently holding it decide when he relinquish it and pass it on to a sucessor. It is generally expected that a sucessor will show an interest in inheriting the position but the current holder is expected to groom the sucessor and teach him everything there is to know about the role. The Divine Speakers When Kharag disappeared, he left vacant the position of earthly representative of the Za'akis gods which were, at the time, already becoming very distant. The Divine Speaker was a position created in the ensuing turmoil and born more out of politics than faith; someone very powerful and with a lot of influence had left a seat completely open. At first many hesitated but no divine sign or decree was issued. Thus the role of the Divine Speaker was created, acting as the spiritual leader of the Za'akis. At least in practice, as Za'akis spirituality had always been fragmented and conflictual. In the wake of modernization, there are now not one but three divine speakers with only one who is openly and adamantly polytheist, as the role tried to evolve toward a spiritual one without any previous religious connotations. Ancient Pantheon The ancient Za'akis pantheon, which is still worshipped today by a sizeable amount of the population, has a large array of gods and is comparable to Earth's pantheons in polytheist religions, such as the Greek, Norse or Egyptian pantheons. A sample of these gods include; Kehnaka - The Celestial Hunter Head deity of the Za'akis pantheon, althought not the eldest. Kehnaka is a fearsome, destructive figure but he is hardly antagonistic to the Za'akis. Amongst the gods, he is the fiercest of them all in battle, a peerless hunter, the strongest and wisest. He embodies the height and greatness the Za'akis strive for. Ravvok - The Keeper After Kehnaka, Ravvok is the most important god of the hunt. Where Kehnaka is the untouchable ideal of the hunter and warrior, Ravvok is the more down to earth god who is prayed to. Simultaneously a god of the wilderness and civilization, he embodies Za'ak's constant and symbiotic conflict between civilization and the savage wilderness. Gharavau - The Destroyer While the Za'akis have countless warrior deities, Gharavau is generally considered the most feared and for good measures. A distant figure from the other Za'akis gods, he is the archetype of the lone warrior and destructor. He is never sated and never content. While feared, he is nonetheless respected for it is said he travels across the celestial realms, slaying monsters. His strength and prowess are admired but the Za'akis fear he may turn on them at any moment, for he is a fickle god. Hanak-Kalak - Master of Retribution Hanak-Kalak is the god associated with concepts such as justice and retribution. While he has a war-like aspect to him like most Za'akis god, he is not a god of wanton bloodshed and destruction. Hanak-Kalak is considered a patron of judges, executionners and assassins as well anyone whose work involve the enforcement of some form of payback. He is the twin of Kanah-Nahak. Kanah-Nahak - Master of Mercy If Hanak-Kalak is all about enforcing retribution and payback, Kanah-Nahak is the enforcer snd patron of fairness and mercy. Where his twin brother is about the enforcement of strict codes and their consequences, Kanah-Nahak is the one to plead for breaking and reconsidering law and their fairness in a certain situation. This often lead him to be associated with liars and those who wish to subvert the code of law for their own benefit but such association is not present in the original myths. Viidaka - Protector of Homes A goddess associated with home, nursing, protection and murder. The last one might seem out of place to non Za'akis but as the goddess who protects the home of her people, she's also a patron of self-defense, especially in the context of defending one's home from attackers and predators alike who may attempt to feast on sleeping warriors and infants. Viidaka is a vigilant figure who is said to never sleep. She's sometimes considered a possible candidate for Kharag's mother. Duhliv - The Bringer of Fortune A goddess of farming, fishing, nature and good fortune. She's said to be the mistress of all earthly creatures. Suprisingly for what appears to be a warrior culture at a glance (an assesment that is very much true), Duhliv is one of the most beloved deity of the Za'akis pantheon, with a shrine in nearly every village. Her priests were often asked to bless the token of a hunter's first kill and marriage gifts for good fortune. The Glorious Host An abstract group of deities. In Za'akis mythology, not only are objects, animals or places associate a god, events are also assigned a god or, rather, create one as they are comitted. As such, each battle, each hunt and each great deed is given it's god to act as it's personification in the outerworld and to immortalize the event. Those deities of events are said to gather in countless numbers around celestial campfires to tell the story of their birth. Presumably, they have a hiearchy based on the importance and scope of the event. Loroth - The Exiled Tyrant The origin of the Za'akis tradition of replacing someone deem ill-suited to it's job comes from the story of Loroth. When a new generation of gods took over from the old one, Loroth was their leader. When he became the ruler of all heavens and earth, Loroth installed a strict order to all creation. In time, Loroth became annoyed by the other gods and desired a simpler order to the world, where he alone would rule everything in perfect order; his order. Mad with power, Loroth began enslaving all the other gods and enacting countless changes to the world. It is said that for one thousand days and one thousand nights, heavens and earth only knew the fear of Loroth. While eventually defeated, Loroth said he would never die as the legend goes that he had bullied the gods and spirits of death and fate himself and forced them to rewrite fate so that he may never be killed. Legend goes that he was thrown outside of heaven into the darkness beyond. Loroth is the archetype of the unjust and dishonorable ruler. Martial Arts and Psychic Powers Outside of their naturally resilient physiology, most Za'akis practice to some degree some form of martial art. Despite the abundance of ressources to make weapons, both from bestial claws and metal, most Za'akis train their body in order to fight unharmed as a result of their naturally dangerous existence. This stem from the fact that weapons can break or be lost, but one's body will always be there until death. As a result, the average Za'akis at least knows some good basics of some martial art. Some dedicated individuals, however, train themselves to truly extreme limits and learn to harness their own energy, something the people of earth would call Qi or Chi. While the Za'akis do not carry the same cultural baggage, in essence, it is very much the same thing. One confusion that has arisen from this is the idea that Za'akis are rarely psychic. This is not true. While not a predominantly psychic race, psychic abilities do exist in a relatively stable amount of the population. The reason this confusion has arisen is that Za'akis rarely, if ever, learn to channel such gifts as the Lor Mentats. Instead of telepathy and telekinesis, they learn to channel their raw emotions through their body. Because such training is directly tied into their physical training, this mean most Za'akis “mentat” in essence learn to blend bodily energy and psychic energy, which they channel almost exclusively through their body, giving their powers such as bursts of superhuman speed, the ability to perfectly control their bodily function or venting their rage through primal bursts, often via screaming. Za'akis psionics are nothing like the subtle psychic gifts of the other races, it is violent, primal and physical. Za'akis Template (PL 4+) The following template is suitable for helping stat a baseline Za'akis, representing their physical capabilities: Abilities: Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4 Powers: Immunity 2 (Cold, Heat) Immunity 2 (Disease, Poison, Flaw: Half Effect), Protection 2, Super-Senses 2 (Infravision, Tracking) Total: 19
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