Xillash (Species)

Physiology

The Xillash possess fangs and venom sacs, evolutionary heritage from their hunting past. They are seldom used in combat except as a last resort. While Xillash venom is usually not strong enough to kill an adult human, it does act as a potent paralytic agent, usually completely immobilizing the victim in less than a minute. The effects wear off over the course of several hours.

  • Organs in brain sensitive to elecromagnetic fields. Allows determination of direction and short-range sensing of most life forms.
  • Require chemical exposure to acquire secondary sex characteristics and become virile; as a result, essentially 3 genders: male, female, and neuter.
  • Electrosensitivity is why Antarans use shock weapons

Homeworld

The Xillash live on a planet known to the Imperial surveyors as Yidira. Yidira is, at best, borderline habitable to human life. The atmosphere is a mildly thin Type I. Gravity is slightly lower than standard, running 0.93 G. The main issue with habitibility, however, is the average temperature of ~20.0 C.

The Xillash are oddly heavily built for a lower-gravity race, though not outside of the error bars. Still, evolutionarily, the Xillash seem oddly poorly suited to their own homeworld.

Culture

  • Cannot breed within your own House. Must make an arrangement with another House to find a mate, which generally means proof of worth must be offered.
  • "Strong Survive" culture due to limited resources, harsh world.
  • From Yidira, Antaras is in the heart of the constellation known as the Shining Mother. The constellation is made up of a group of newly-birthed stars in the nearby nebula.
  • Cultural war for many generation with the Antarans (practically since the Xillash obtained access to interstellar-drive technology)
  • Criminal justice system - punishments vary from fines to imprisonment to execution to banishment. Banishment is considered to be the worst penalt, as it results in the banishment of the entire genetic decendent line and revocation of all breeding rights.
  • Lineage is incredibly important because of inheritence law - greatness means better breeding, survival chances. Resources of the weaker members of a House are often diverted to the "mightier" members during times of trouble
  • Houses are maternal
  • Very xenophobic (protectionist)
  • Have very few colonies, almost all in system; some out-system colonies used as meet-points for trades with some other reptilian species
  • Types of social groups:
    • House: Genetic subspecies. Also (for some reason) has particular traditional role in society.
    • Family: Genetic family grouping. Much like an extended human family.
    • Tribe: Geographic grouping. Tribes have grown into villages, towns, and neighborhoods within cities. Tribes are self-governed units, but not all members of a tribe will be directly related.
  • Xillashi Warfare: Xillashi differentiate between different forms of what humans would consider to be "warfare." Warfare can be handled in different ways depending upon the political groups involved and the nature of the conflict. Xillashi warfare has evolved a complex set of rules and necessary interactions to limit the scope of the damage. Culturally, this was largely historically motivated by the actual need to minimize casualties and keep warfare short so as to allow able-bodied citizens to continue with their work. Anything less could have led to knock-on effects resulting in the decimation (or worse) of entire tribes should the Xillashi be unable to continue acquiring necessary resources.
    • Auctions, largely similar to silent auctions, may be held to resolve a conflict. Auctions are moderated by a (ideally disinterested) third party and operate largely as a diplomatic means to avoid outright conflict without causing either involved party to lose honor or status.
    • Champions may be selected to represent the groups involved in the conflict. The champions stand and fight in the stead of their individual tribes, Houses, or nation-states. The fight may be to the touch, to the wound, or to the death; allowable weapons also vary, though traditional Xillashi blades are almost always selected.
    • Limited Warfare is sometimes agreed upon as a means of settling differences. In limited warfare, both sides agree to acceptable losses and acceptable terms of battle (such as weapons restrictions, disallowed battlefields, etc.). In limited warfare, pains are generally taken to minimize casualties; sides generally prefer to capture opponents' soldiers instead.
    • Total Warfare is the rarest form of Xillashi warfare. Total warfare is most akin to human warfare; sides do not pre-negotiate limits, and no punches are pulled. Total warfare could easily result in the elimination of entire tribes if times were lean; as such, engaging in total warfare was incredibly risky. Throughout the course of known Xillashi history, only a dozen or so total wars have ever been fought. The last declaration of total warfare was also the first declaration of war with an alien race, the humans of the Antaran system.

Naming

Xillashi names are incredibly culturally important. Xillashi do not use nicknames.

Child-Names

Child-names are given to Xillashi young shortly after birth. Child-names are short, generally single syllables. Generally, Xillashi child-names are similar in feeling and structure to trandoshan names. Examples:

  • Sdo
  • Ossk
  • Liss
  • Sissk
  • Hesh

Male Names

When males reach sexual maturity, they add a second name, their adult name, to the front of their child-name. This name is run together with the child-name in males. Xillashi masculine names always start with a hard consonant. Examples:

  • Corsk-Hesh
  • Drakdor-Sdo
  • Grernac-Liss

Female Names

When females reach sexual maturity, they add a second name. Unlike males' names, the females do not run their names together. They are always pronounced distinctly. Female adult names always start with a soft consonant or a vowel.

  • Yukkmha Sdo
  • Wynka Liss
  • Oruknok Hesh
  • Skcek Sissk

Honorifics

Adult males or females may earn honorifics through particularly honorable or valiant actions. Honorifics may even be conferred post mortem for certain circumstances. Honorifics are added to the end of the name.

In extraordinarily rare circumstances, a Xillashi "hero" may be granted one of a few special honorifics These do not directly translate to human honorifics, but they represent a special social position within the Xillashi culture that transcends the individual. In these rarest of occasions, the Xillashi granted the honorific renounces his old name and is afterwards only known by the honorific. Only one Xillashi can hold that particular honorific at a given time, and the Xillashi holding it is culturally required to maintain the persona required to maintain the honor of that name.

History

Unknown to both the Xillash and the Antarans, the Xillash species actually originated on Antaras. Yidira was to be their first colony world, only a short few lightyears from home, established with sublight craft. However, it had been established for only a few years when the colonists lost contact with the Homeworld; their radios were overwhelmed with static and noise before finally falling silent months later.

Thousands upon thousands of years passed. The scars of the extinction-level event on Antaras slowly healed; the colonists on Yidira survived. Slowly, knowledge of the homeworld fell into myth and legend as the Xillash struggled to just survive. Their culture changed, hardening to fit the environment. However, the myth of the Eden in the Shining Mother persisted.

Many millenia after the "extinction event" on Antaras, a survey team found the planet. It was apparently completely devoid of intelligent life, though it was perfectly habitable. The humans sent settlers and eventually built a wealthy colony there. The Antarans are completely unaware that the Xillash ever lived on Antaras; in fact, they were completely unaware of the Xillash until the first Xillash vessels showed up in system many thousands of years after the colony had been established.

Combat

xillash_knife_design.jpg

Typically, a Xillash favors ranged combat. Xillash use blasters and slugthrowers with roughly equal frequency, though they slightly prefer slughthrowers as longer-range weapons and blasters for shorter-range combat.

If forced into melee or hand-to-hand combat, the Xillash usually employ stubby, triangularly-bladed daggers1. If forced, they will use their short but sharp claws. When able to prepare, Xillash will coat their claws or daggers in their venom. Many Xillash daggers are specifically crafted to hold a reserve of venom that is drawn into the victim's bloodstream with a deep enough wound.

Some Xillash, particularly of the Shade House, are known to fight with swords instead of knives. However, most Xillash prefer their knives over any other weapons, relying on speed and the bleeding wounds inflicted by the triangular blades. Wounded Xillash lose stamina extremely quickly and often fall into a state of semi-consciousness, making them easy to kill after the battle.

Houses

Xillashi Houses are distinct from Xillashi tribes or family units. Houses are more akin to a subspecies distinction: members of different Houses are subtly different from one another at a deeper genetic level. Members of different Houses are capable of interbreeding (in fact, they are mandated to do so - see [[[#culture|Culture]]]).

Though Xillashi tribes consist of intermingled Houses, most towns, villages, and cities are dominated by members of one or two particular Houses. The dominant Houses in an area usually maintain a hostel of sorts where visiting members of the House can stay for short periods. These shelters are also considered safe shelter for House members seeking political amnesty.

Modern Xillashi Houses still retain two major vestiges of their feudal heritage.

  1. Sigils are pictographic representations of the name of the House. They provide some information about the historical role of the House in Xillashi society.
  2. Crests are much like heraldic coats of arms, though they are designed to be painted onto a triangular sign or stitched into a pennant rather than painted onto a square or kite shield. Crests are more symbolic and artful than sigils but convey much the same information. They are traditionally used to mark key House properties, e.g., government and tribal buildings.
House Appearance Crest Characteristics
Fanged Greens and browns; thick bodies. Plated spinal ridge. Dripping fang Most militaristic of the Houses. Most formal militaries made up of Fanged House members. Second most likely House to encounter offworld.
Lightning Tan, often with light-brown speckles. Thick bodies tending towards very high strength. Ratlike creature (Skirrssh) Keepers of most fertile lands. Some debate over translation - may be Lightning, but sometimes "Fertile House" or "Farmers' House." Small but rich landholdings at extreme latitudes. Control a large percentage of food supply.
River Blue to green; often solidly colored. Tend to be small. River and coin Mercantile (and sometimes mercenary). One of the most social of the Houses, and the third most likely House to encounter offworld. One of the few houses known to have worked with aliens. Traditionally merchants and traders; control much of the modern financial sector.
Scale Bright colors, often oranges, reds, yellows; smallest claws. Slightly-frilled shoulders and lower back (near base of tail). Trowel and Scepter Known for long-term planning, but even more so, known for architecture and shipbuilding. Primary source of civil engineering training.
Shade Dark brown to black coloration, sometimes dark brown speckled black. Thin bodies with hooded heads. Waves (Dunes) "Explorer House." Most land of all the Houses, but includes nearly all of the Unlivable Lands. Traditionally the scouts and militaristic explorers (the first line of defense for the villages, then the feudal city-states). First into space, and often in charge of spacecraft (but not always for military spacecraft).
Volcano Dark red to black with white to yellow stripes. Bony/scaly knuckle growths. Forge and dagger Masters at mining and metallurgy. Most mechanical engineers come from or are trained by this House. Makers of the best of the Xillash daggers and even Shade House's swords.
Breeze White, slightly thick-bodied, and covered with fine spines (almost hairlike); longer frills on backs of arms, inner legs. Swoopy, overturned V (Mountains) Colonized some of the higher peaks. Fairly exclusionary.
Shilkrin Arms, legs, sides, and back covered sharp, spiny feathers. Born mottled earth tones, but sprout more color when reaching maturity. Nearly as dextrous as Ssashu. Shilkrin tearing throat from large reptilian herbivore Keepers of a lot of mechanical knowledge, but span the gap between the Ssashu and the Volcano Houses. Often work with electronics and/or Droids, as well as the finickier bits of starships.
Kossh Well-muscled, but still flexible. Coloration is jet black with a red belly. Kossh pit sensors are sensitive, their venom is stronger than most Xillashi, and some are even harder for other Xillashi to detect with their EM senses. Kossh (a large, reptilian predator that hunts alone) Tend to serve as peace officers, which also means judge, jury, and even international/intertribal mediator at times.
Ssashu Slender, weaker than most Xillash, but with much finer manual dexterity and keener senses. Mostly grays and browns. Tendency to self-modify. Ssashu, wings enveloping a clutch of eggs Weaker heritage drove this house to be healers and caregivers. Largely looked down upon by other houses, but House Ssashu has considerable influence over Xillashi children.
Star Coloration is red, yellow, and black stripes. Tails often end in scale rattles. Stylized Xillashi face, with four-pointed stars for eyes, forked tongue extended below, flanked by two tail rattles One of the more scholarly and religious houses. They are the artists, the teachers, and the shaman of the Xillashi race. Their words are given great weight, and it is a rare Xillashi leader who is not counselled by a group of these mysterious prophets.
Outcast Varies Stylized sun Members of this house have been expelled from another House for the most heinous of crimes. "Untouchable caste", completely ignored by all other Xillash. Chemically sterilized as part of the banishment.
  • coloration, secondary sex characteristics (e.g., frills, spines) vary slightly among houses; carried by the maternal line, hence the maternal Houses
  • species has low genetic variation and proclivity for inbreeding errors, hence rule to never breed within House
  • nice to add notes about how Houses were formed - division of labor amongst original colonists

Fanged House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

Lightning House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

River House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

Scale House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

Shade House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

Volcano House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

Breeze House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

Shilkrin House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

  • The shilkrin is a bird of prey; vulture-like, but eats carrion and hunts. It's a survivor.
  • What is the House's role in society?

Kossh House

TODO House notes needed - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

  • The kossh is a large, reptilian predator that hunts alone. In antiquity, it was considered to be the most dangerous animal on Yidara, capable of ravaging entire villages.
  • House tends to be larger and stronger (like namesake).
  • Often serve as peace officers, including following roles:
    • "police officer" or "detective" (though Xillashi don't have formal police offices, more like independent investigators)
    • judge
    • arbiter (for inter-personal disputes)
    • mediator (for inter-tribal and international disputes)

Ssashu House

TODO clean up notes - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

TODO update notes - not so reviled, but not most respected, either. Seen as necessary and useful, but also not super-prestigious to marry into Ssashu House. Also a little bit of envy from other Houses - Ssashu in antiquity kept a lot of the oral traditions of the Xillash, and they were "bards and magicians" back in the day. Now they're more often scientists, particularly biologists or chemists, but they still maintain secret stashes of advanced or experimental tech (particularly biotech and cybernetics) for use only within their own House and tribes.

Slender, weaker than most Xillash, but with much finer manual dexterity and keener senses. Coloration is typically varied, but made of mostly grays and browns that blend into the background. With the Ssashus' tendency for biological enhancement and self-experimentation, any coloration and or distinguishing feature (hoods, horns, spines, etc.) can be found among House Ssashu.

Sigil: Ssashu (birdlike lizard - a carrion eater, one that does not hunt… and often loses its meals to shilkrin), with wings enveloping a clutch of eggs

In the early days of the Yidira colony, the Ssashu house was formed of those who were too weak or delicate to fight or work in the harsh climate of the planet. Those left behind were still required to be useful, and typically cared for the young and for the sick. They perform those duties to this day. Ssashu House boasts more doctors, biologists, and kallesh (those who care for the clutch and hatchlings) than any other house. No house in Xillashi culture, other than Outcast, is as reviled as Ssashu. Aside from the cultural history of their line being drawn from the weakest among the Xillash, they are tasked with caring for the weak, the helpless, the injured. Although some (mostly Ssashu House) see them as bringing forth strength from weakness, most Xillashi avoid the Ssashu like the plague. If you are under the care of the Ssashu, you are weak. Many Xillash would prefer to suffer and die rather than be "helped" by the Gurish (a derogatory term best translated as "healer"). Ssashu are not only looked down upon… they are also feared. Ssashu are not typically the "warm, nurturing doctor" some offworlders might suspect. Their status among Xillash often breeds resentment, and Ssashu are often even more disgusted by weakness than a normal Xillash. Ssashu kallesh ruthlessly discard viable eggs that show signs of physical or mental weakness, and instruction is often harsh, or sometimes deadly for those who did not learn quickly. Ssashu doctors often perform surgery without any anaesthetics. If you cannot bear the pain, you do not deserve to survive. Some Ssashu also seek to "improve" the Xillashi race through attempts at genetic engineering (cybernetics is almost never used due to both Xillashi technological inferiority compared to the rest of the galaxy, and for a general distaste for cybernetic replacements - it is considered more honorable to live without an arm than to rely on a machine). Sometimes criminals are given to the Ssashu for their experiments. Many Ssashu, wanting to prove themselves the equal to any Xillash, also test biological improvements on themselves. While any offworld doctor would see the Ssashu "doctors" as monsters of the highest order who sacrifice countless members of their species in their experiments, the Ssashu have created many advancements… New combat drugs, implanted bioware (many Ssashu have increased muscle tissue, eyes that allow them to see in color, incredibly potent venom sacs, and even more drastic additions…), and they are hoping to soon reach a point where genetic engineering becomes "viable" (meaning most of the specimens don't end up on the autopsy table). Aside from a myriad of possible biological enhancements, they hope this may one day free the species from many of the genetic weaknesses and inbreeding problems the Xillash suffer from, and, perhaps, finally win the prestige Ssashu House feels it deserves.

Star House

TODO clean up notes - would be nice to have sketches of sigil, crest

TODO add notes on how many Star are kind of leader/advisors or similar, but some more selfish Star House are like the classic "evil Grand Vizier," capable of leading entire tribes astray in search of more personal glory, etc. Generally considered to be mysterious, maybe even a little odd by other Xillash. Tend to be super-intelligent compared to other Xillashi. Update notes - Xillash can't often afford people who are JUST philosophers/thinkers, but they do use the introspection and intelligence of the Star House to lead their civilization forward.

A small, but venerated House, Star Xillash are keepers and teachers of wisdom. They are teachers and scholars, and maintain the libraries of Yidira. They also produce many great artists. Though it might seem odd for a race as pragmatic and utilitarian Xillash to value art, they esteem art highly. Due to the harsh nature of their existence, their art is almost always non-permanent in nature. Theater, dance, and music are well-developed Xillashi art forms. The most popular form is one that is almost exclusive to Star House, the rattle singers. The Xillash sings vocally, telling the stories of the race, while swaying and dancing to add a beautiful accompaniement. The Xillash also rattles their tail to add emphasis and emotion. Often the movement and rattling is done with the Xillashi prone. The movements can be perceived as varying between graceful, lewd, and epileptic. While mating dances are popular, the trembling rattles on the ground actually have more to do with the Xillashi ability to "hear" through vibrations in the ground. While the Xillashi vibration sense is no where near as sensitive as a normal snake, the rattle songs of Star House often have a somewhat "hypnotizing" effect on other Xillash (although most off-worlders would likely find the sound more alarming). In fact, while rattle songs are now a high art form, they used to be strictly performed in religious ceremonies. And that is what the Star are known for. They are the priests, the seers, the mystics. Those who speak for the Great Mother of the All Cresche. Star House are the shaman of the Xillash. They receive and share visions of the future. Many are said to be able to bewitch the minds of might warriors, and it is whispered that the high priests and priestesses of Star House deliver prophetic wisdom in the very dreams of the leaders of the race. (Mechanically, Star House has a tendency to birth individuals senstive to the Force. While a very rare few might develop the ability to use telekinesis or other rare abilities, the Xillashi Priesthood's abilities are mostly geared towards clairsentince and telepathy, with mental and emotional manipulation demonstrated less often.) Those that enter a Xillashi temple will likely find a cave, filled with Star House mystics, all deep in meditation, tails constantly rattling, often in unison - "Vibrating in harmony with the Shining Mother's Song." (The Star believe the Mother sang the universe into existence, and everything is merely an echo of her perfect song. The Xillash are greater than the rest of the world, as the Mother laid a great egg in the Great Creche she sang into existence (Antaras). She and sang and rattled until it hatched, and the first Xillashi sprang forth.) The Xillash have great respect for the wisdom of Star House, but their ways often unnerve even the most fearless warriors. Though Star House members are held in great esteem, few choose to become leaders, prefering to practice their mystic ways and act as artists, advisors, and teachers. Those that do take positions of leadership are some of the most well-known of Xillashi rulers, and usually preside over periods of great calamity or great change. Even when not in positions of power, rare is the Xillashi leader who does not give great consideration to the counsel and visions offered by those of the House of the Star.

Outcast House

TODO chemical castration, expulsion. The chemical castration is natural, not synthetic - trigger is as yet unknown to outsiders, though.
After a few weeks, start losing motivation (enter a deep depression - not "zombies", but clinically depressed and socially withdrawn). Usually die within a year on homeworld due to lack of support structure and chemically-driven lack of motivation to fight for food, water, etc.
TODO - myths about survivor-outcasts; notes about how to be moved into Outcast House

Rogue House

Reports of a potential "external" or "new" House amongst Xillash. Don't have tons of info yet, but have been reports of a new House sigil found on certain weapons, etc. It doesn't translate via normal Xillash linguistics, but reports have been trying to decipher it. Best everyone can figure, the new group of Xillash have modified the "Outcast" sigil to mean something different - something like "chosen outcast" or "special outcast." But there's also a connotation of voluteerism and a connotation of of a lifting up of one's station. Anyway, the sigil also connotes something like war, but it's an odd use of that type of connotation, since that word in Xillashi has always been used with an object and this usage has no object. Eventually determined that something like Rebel House, Rogue House, or Renegade House would be an accurate enough translation. Xillash have no existing word for Rebel/Renegade - it's a fairly foreign concept to them as a whole. Analysts expect they brought the concept in from dealings with various other species, e.g., Trandoshans.

Made up of former Outcasts (as far as everyone can tell). Chemically "de-castrated" using advanced synthetic hormone/enzyme/protein mixture that suppresses the chemical castration effect. Mixture is complex, but an advanced Imperial-level medical facility can synthesize it with little problem (though it is apparently very costly and difficult for the Xillash themselves to produce). Maintains semblance of sex (including motivation and other secondary sex characteristics). Unsure if it actually reverses castration or just appears that way. Does require frequent (weekly, with the current mixture) maintenance doses; if maintenance is not kept up, the Xillash reverts to an "outcast" status within days to weeks, depending on various factors. Initial "de-castration" takes weeks to months to take effect, starting with low doses and building up.

Statistics

  • Higher than average Strength
  • Higher than average Dexterity
  • Lower than average Technical
  • Slightly lower than average Knowledge
  • Slightly lower than average Mechanical

Special Abilities

  • Venom: Xillash venom is a neurotoxic paralytic poison that primarily affects skeletal muscle. In game terms, that means the target must resist 3D venom damage, with an additional +1 damage per extra dose received (capped at 7D). Failing the Strength check leaves the target completely paralized for 2D6 minutes; passing by less than 5 means that the affected limb (or nearest limb) is paralyzed for the same time frame.
  • Natural Weapons - Claws: Xillash have short but sharp claws. Brawling attacks can cause Str + 1D lethal damage at the Xillash's option.
  • Electromagnetic Sensitivity: Can sense most living organisms (anything with an electrically-conductive neurosystem) at a range of about 5 meters (for human-sized creatures). The sense is accurate enough to determine a rough direction and range, but it is no longer precise enough to use for hunting (or combat) without penalty. Attacks guided only by the Xillash's electromagnetic senses are made at -2D.
  • Tough Hide: The thin scales of the Xillash are still better protection than human skin against some weapons, providing +1D physical armor. This armor does not stack with any artificial armor worn.

Special Weaknesses

  • Slow Metabolism: Due to their relatively slow metabolism, Xillash suffer a 2D penalty to any stamina rolls (despite their natural Strength advantages).
  • Electromagnetic Sensitivity: Due to their electrosensitive sensory organs, Xillash are particularly succeptible to electrical attacks. They suffer a 1D penalty to any Strength checks to resist damage from electrical or ion weapons (though not blasters).

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