The Seven Peoples
Read and decide which of the Seven Peoples you’d most like to play, then vote in our poll.
You are of the Balla, a lithe, light-boned species known for becoming ever more eerily beautiful with age. Balla children appear unformed and somewhat grotesque, even to their parents. Despite your clumsiness and unbecoming appearance, you were trained by your elders for an adulthood of grace and beauty. By the time you reached sexual maturity, around the age of eighteen, you had gradually transformed into a silky-haired, bright-eyed being with perfectly symmetrical facial features and ideally proportioned musculature. After this time, your interactions with other species changed. You were treated as an object of awe, and granted unconscious deference.
Like all Balla, you are rocked by powerful emotions which you continually work to contain and conceal. Without constant mental discipline, you might faint, weep uncontrollably, or surrender to violent rage. By far the most common symptom of emotional surrender is derangement of the senses. A device known as the mor sohn allows you to literally bottle up your excess emotions. If you fail to use it or lose access to it, you risk slipping forever into a hallucinatory fog.
Other hallmarks of balla culture include an affinity for the natural world, a devotion to your peoples’ ancient calligraphic scripts, a tradition of achingly beautiful music, and a love of rhetoric.
You are a genetically and cybernetically altered being, originally from human stock. You are the results of super-soldier experimentation undertaken during the Mohilar War. In all likelihood, you served in the war.
If you’re like most of your kind, you consider yourself a new species, homo amplius. About 70% of cybes fall into this category. Cybes of this persuasion seek to build their own settlements and cultures. If you count yourself among them, you envision a utopian cybe society based on the principles of self-determination, mutability of body and soul, and personal freedom. Attempts to found such societies have proven rocky so far. When outsiders point this out to you, you might reply that you’re doing much better than homo sapiens a single generation after it first appeared. Among fellow cybes you might be willing to admit that the tenuous interpersonal connections fostered by cybe ideology make for volatile communities—especially when the innate aggression installed in your genes by Combine geneticists kicks in. You are nonetheless determined to lay the foundations for a perfect society. Since the cybes intend to render themselves effectively immortal through additional modification, they’ll be living with the results of today’s political developments for centuries to come. If you’re a member of this dominant faction, you call yourself an amp or evolver.
You range between 127 and 168 cm in height. Dense musculature and bone structure makes you heavier than a human counterpart. Your fingers are disproportionately long and thin, you thumbs thick and partially bifurcated. Durugh tend toward pale complexions and dark hair.
Other species may instinctively recoil at your twisted features and hunched physiques, but you durugh certainly came in handy during the Mohilar War. Your ability to briefly phase between dimensional layers made your people ideal spies and infiltrators. A once-despised enemy of The Combine, your people initially threw in your lot with the Mohilar when war broke out. Your much-derided penchant for double-dealing proved indispensable when your martyred former king, Ukshqa, used his access to the Mohilar mothership to discover their genocidal plans for your race after the Combine was defeated. Thanks to the Bogey Condundrum, due credit for the defeat of the Mohilar has been taken away from you. Still, you are sure that the durugh were somehow instrumental to victory. Although a small faction of durugh want to go back to the old ways and fight the Combine, a new majority seeks peaceful union with it. Since then you have learned that the universal tolerance espoused by the Combine is more ideal than reality. The durugh were the primary foes of the Combine peoples for generations, and old perceptions die hard.
As a human, you belong to the Combine’s most numerous and politically dominant species. You probably look just like a particularly fit and attractive human being of the early 21st century. About one in twenty humans now boast genetically inherited body modifications. These originated in a vogue for cosmetic form alteration that flourished during the historical period known as the Flowering. Today it is not uncommon to encounter people with brightly hued skin, pronounced facial ridges, luminous hair, or cat-like eyes. Some conformist cultures require all citizens to display a distinctive set of cosmetic alterations; others insist on original human form, or OHF as it is called. As with any species, use of viroware may also alter your appearance.
If you have a high opinion of your species and its history, you believe yourself inspiring, innovative, and resourceful. If you take a more jaundiced view, you see a history of chauvinism, unchecked expansion, and heedless resource consumption.
Humans are the most pleasure-seeking and libidinous of the major species. Depending on your personal attitudes, you may celebrate its devotion to fleshly rewards or view it as a tragic flaw to be stoutly resisted.
You belong to the only non-mammalian race among the Seven Peoples. You look like a six-foot-tall humanoid locust. You walk on two legs and use your other four to wield weapons. The egg you were originally hatched from was chosen after an exhaustive process of inspection by your clan, a colony of several thousand individuals. After a long nutrient soak, you emerged from it in larval form. Hundreds of other slightly less perfect larva were imprinted with your DNA during this nutrifying process. Upon hatching, you were invested with a name and trained in the six warrior arts. You proved your competence as a fighter—if you hadn’t, you would have been slain and reduced to nutrient mush for someone else’s larva. After this time you may have specialized in some other task, or continued to devote yourself to warlike pursuits.
Dying is a way of life for you. Your chitinous body is all but disposable. When it is destroyed or damaged beyond repair, you can migrate your consciousness into a new larva kept in a temperature-controlled grk-k’ka chamber. It is then doused in a hyper-nutrient bath and, in a matter of days if not hours, regrown to full size. The new body is in every respect a copy of the original, without any lasting damage it may have suffered during its undoubtedly short existence. (Sadly, you also lose any implants or viroware you had installed, which is why your people don’t much bother with these technologies.) You can migrate your consciousness over great distances. Assuming no anomalous local conditions apply, if your chamber is anywhere on the same planet as you, or is on your ship in orbit around the planet, you’re golden. You can’t, however, migrate over interplanetary distances.
At an average seven feet in height and topping the scales at close to half a ton, you are a tavak, the most physically robust of the seven peoples. Descended from armadillo-like creatures of your homeworld, Tav, you are covered with hairy plates of natural armor. Piercing retractable claws wait within your long, wrinkled fingers. Your culture transformed when your ancestors discovered the warp corridors and reached the stars. Before that, your people were peaceful, placid insectivores, surviving through an instinct for social harmony. When they reached space, they found it a cold and forbidding environment, wracked by warfare. They also discovered that their naturally armed and armored body morphologies gave them a physical edge over their rival peoples. Over the course of a generation, they transformed themselves into formidable warriors. Yet even as they embraced the art of combat, they held fiercely onto their traditions of spiritual serenity and political coexistence.
Humans take credit for brokering the formation of the Combine, but it is the Tavak philosophy that provides it with its guiding principles.
By default, you are calm, centered and even somewhat sleepy. Only when danger threatens to you arouse yourself with the warrior’s mantra and transform into a furious fighting machine. You end the fight with decisive but not excessive force, then return to your state of lowered excitation. Or that is what happens under ideal circumstances. In fact, the quick transition from peace to war has left you susceptible to battle frenzy. When in this state, your fury is a terrible thing to witness, a danger to foe and friend alike.
Once—less than a blink of an eye in cosmic reckoning—you were infinite. You were the Vas Kra, beings of pure energy and universal consciousness. Though you were not gods, and sought not the worship of biological beings, you sometimes received it all the same. Your thoughts reverberated through the universe. You became one with the great cycles of being and unbeing. All was revealed to you. There was neither happiness nor unhappiness. Neither desire or contentment. There simply was the Vas Kra, and that was balanced and infinite.
From time to time your sense of pervading essence led you to intervene in mortal affairs. Through this act you forged a bond with the beings called humans. You saw their potential and their tragedy, and were moved. You fostered coincidences, caused unseen connections. And through this action the warring species achieved unity, and formed the mortal polity called the Combine.
Thus were sown the seeds of your doom. The Mohilar, whoever they were, found the sub-atomic anomaly you had thus generated and used it to end your eternal primacy. Their doomsday weapon followed it, homing in on your energy signatures. You were devolved. Yet your new bodies were not the perfect specimens of distant memory. They were weak, malformed, hideous.
This happened five or so years ago, as mortals reckon time. To be bounded not only by physicality but chronology is a loathsome burden indeed!
You appear as a 92-122 cm humanoid, your head oversized, your eyes black and enlarged, your body spindly and twisted. Your skin is gray or grin and semi-translucent. When you use your psychic powers—mere mocking echoes of what you once possessed—your luminous brain can be seen pulsing within your skull. Although you still retain vestigial remnants of your universe-spanning mental abilities, they overtax your puny new bodies. There are only a few thousand of you now. Despite your small numbers, your influence on post-war history has led the mortals to regard you as the seventh of the great peoples of the sector. You seek to reverse the devolution process and return to your immortal oneness.
Ashen Stars offers seven different player character species. Which would you choose?
- The humans, adaptable, resourceful, and numerous. They comprise the majority of a typical laser crew (19%, 34 Votes)
- The cybes, former humans radically altered by cybernetic and genetic science (18%, 33 Votes)
- The kch-thk, warrior locust people who migrate to new bodies when their old ones are destroyed (18%, 33 Votes)
- The armadillo-like tavak, followers of a serene warrior ethic (15%, 28 Votes)
- The vas mal, former near-omnisicent energy beings devolved by disaster into misshapen humanoid form (14%, 26 Votes)
- The eerily beautiful, nature-loving, emotion-fearing balla (10%, 18 Votes)
- The durugh, hunched, furtive ex-enemies of the Combine who can momentarily phase through solid matter (6%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 183