Monday, February 3, 2020

Third Imperium - Major Races

Major Races

In the Third Imperium, the designation of a race as "major" is a relatively arbitrary distinction based upon a single well-defined criteria: Did the race in questions develop Jump drive technology on its own. If yes, the race is classified as a major race. Races that received Jump drive technology through contact with other interstellar civilizations or based upon the discovery of the artifacts left behind by another race are classified as minor races. There are currently eight acknowledged major races, three of which are strains of humaniti - the Solomani, the Vilani, and the Zhodani - and two of which - the Ancients and the Droyne - are only recognized as major races based on archaeological evidence.

Designation as a major race has no direct relationship to the power, influence, or importance of that race. Several "minor" races are important players in known space, while at least one major race is decidedly not. The Droyne are a major race, but they rarely make Jump capable ships, and have no discernible impact on galactic society or politics. On the other hand, achieving Jump drive technology before their neighbors has enabled several of the other major races to carve out extensive holdings and impose their will upon their less lucky neighbors.

The known major races are:

Ancients: Little is known of the Ancients due to the fact that they apparently died out two hundred thousand years ago, leaving behind little but a handful of enigmatic artifacts, but they are regarded as a major race. They are known to have moved vast numbers of humans and scattered them across the Orion Arm, and to have transplanted wolves from Earth to Lair. They are also known to have waged a millennia-long interstellar war that seems to have wiped them out. These events which could only have been accomplished with the aid of Jump drives, coupled with a handful of examples of Ancient technology that clearly show Jump capability, have led to the Ancients being classified as a major race.

Aslan: The Aslan are roughly human-sized bipedal carnivores descended from pouncing hunter stock. Their appearance is superficially reminiscent of lions from Earth, so the first humans to encounter them dubbed them the "Aslan", and the "lion-like" comparison has stuck ever since. They are not related to lions or any other Earth feline in any way. Aslan have a retractable dewclaw on their thumb which they can use as a weapon. Aslan females outnumber Aslan males by about three to one. The Aslan are organized into clans, which are dominated in almost all by the female members. Female Aslan control trade, commerce, industry, and every other aspect of Aslan society, leaving politics and warfare as the only professions available to male Aslan. Young male Aslan, called Ihatei, are expected to seek out and obtain land holdings to prove their worth, givin aslan society a permanent expansionist bent. Though the Aslan Hierate is dominated by the Aslan, they have ranged far beyond its borders, and many have become loyal Imperial citizens.

Droyne: The Droyne are only considered to be a major race as a result of archaeological discoveries showing that the race had Jump capable ships as far back as eight thousand years before the present day. Droyne society is divided into rigid castes, membership of which is determined in a Droyne's adolescence. Changes in diet and environment morph an individual Droyne into a form suitable for their caste, and Droyne of different castes can look very different. The six castes are: Drone, leader, sport, technician, warrior, and worker. Most Droyne are about three feet tall, but warrior and worker caste Droyne can be larger than the average human. Droyne are hairless and grey, with small wings and tails, making them look a bit like gargoyles. Other than the sport caste, most Droyne are unimaginative and uncreative. How a race like the Droyne discovered Jump drive technology is a mystery. Why they apparently gave up Jump drive technology ages ago is also a mystery. The Droyne are genetically identical to the Chirpers.

Hivers: Hivers are a non-humanoid six-fold radial symmetrical race that vaguely resemble starfish. They move about on five of their limbs which they use interchangeably as arms and legs, while the sixth limb has evolved into a "head". Hivers are extremely alien, and can be described as unsentimental, uncaring, and even callous. They simply drop their offspring off in the wilderness and any who survive their first five years become part of whatever Hiver settlement they then happen to wander into. Hivers are hermaphroditic, and have no particular courtship or bonding rituals - whenever two Hivers meet they "mate" by joining together one of their limbs which has evolved into their sexual organ. To preserve genetic diversity in their species, they occasionally send "ambassadors" around to the various worlds of the Hiver Federation to shake hands with other Hivers on multiple planets. The Hivers are mostly nonviolent, and have fought only one war, against the Two Thousand Worlds of the K'kree. The Hivers won, although the specifics of their victory are unclear. Hivers are mostly found in the Hiver Federation, but individual Hivers have traveled throughout known space.

K'kree: The K'ree are gregarious, hexopodal herbivores that walk on four legs and use their remaining two limbs as arms. They are nicknamed "centaurs", although they don't really look much like the classical conception of centaurs. They can also smell the meat on your breath and think the universe would be a better place if you and all your kind were wiped out. Descended from herd animals, the K'kree are both social and claustrophobic - a K'kree who is isolated from other of his kind or confined to a small space for any extended period of time will probably die. K'kree are rarely found outside of the Two Thousand Worlds because they generally don't travel in anything less than a large group, and that kind of travel is incredibly expensive. Any K'kree who would willingly choose to live by themselves among other races would be considered insane by his fellows.

Solomani: Humans from Old Terra. They achieved Jump drive technology quite late in galactic terms, but their energy and exuberance allowed them to confront and defeat the First Imperium, dominating the Second Imperium and migrating throughout known space. As the Solomani conquerors merged their holdings with the First Imperium in the process of creating the Ramshackle Empire, Solomani are found throughout the Third Imperium as well as the Solomani Confederation.

Vargr: Vargr are genetically modified wolves transplanted from Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago by the Ancients. They are chaotic, anarchic, and often violent. Though they have a fundamental pack mentality, they tend to reject authority, although this attitude is by no means universal. Most Vargr are found in the Vargr Extents, but large numbers of them emigrated to other regions, including the Third Imperium, where many have become loyal Imperial citizens.

Vilani: Vilani are humans transplanted to Vland by the Ancients hundreds of thousands of years ago. They were the first strain of humanity known to achieve Jump drive technology, and they carved out a huge interstellar empire known as the Vilani Empire or the First Imperium. Culturally, Vilani tend to be very conservative, and almost hidebound, but are otherwise very similar to humans from Earth.

Zhodani: The Zhodani are humans who the Ancients transplanted to the planet Zhdant hundreds of thousands of years ago. As Zhdant is a lighter gravity world than Earth, they are on average taller and thinner than either Solomani or Vilani. A notable percentage of Zhodani are psionically gifted, and Zhodani society has embraced psionics as a boon to their lives. The Zhodani Consulate is run by psionically capable individuals - psionic talent is a requirement to hold government office in the Consulate. Most Zhodani live within the Zhodani Consulate, but they do have friendly relations with several neighboring states and some of these humans have emigrated to the Vargr Extents or the Aslan Hierate. They are rarely found in the Third Imperium, as the Imperials are hostile to the use of psionics and will generally assume any Zhodani in their midst is using telepathy to spy upon them.

Each race will be more completely detailed, including its GURPS point value, in a linked description.

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