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Codex/Aliens: Non-Council Races

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Spacefaring species without the political power to set galactic policy.

Primary Codex Entries Edit

Batarians Edit

In the early 2160s, the Alliance began aggressive colonization of worlds in the Skyllian Verge, much to the dismay of the batarians who had been developing the region for several decades. In 2171, the batarians petitioned the Council to declare the Verge a "zone of batarian interest". The Council refused, however, declaring unsettled worlds in the region open to human colonization.

In protest, the batarians closed their Citadel embassy and severed official diplomatic relations with the Council, effectively becoming a rogue state. They instigated a proxy war in the Verge by funneling money and weapons to criminal organizations, urging them to strike at human colonies.

Hostilities peaked with the Skyllian Blitz of 2176, an attack on the human capital of Elysium by batarian-funded pirates and slavers. In 2178, the Alliance retaliated with a crushing assault on the moon of Torfan, long used as a staging base by batarian-backed criminals. In the aftermath, the batarians retreated into their own systems, and are now rarely seen in Citadel space.

Collectors Edit

Living beyond the Omega-4 mass relay in the Terminus Systems, the mysterious Collector species is glimpsed so rarely as to be taken for a myth by most in galactic society. In reality, Collectors are human-sized insectoid bipeds and can resemble massive winged beetles. They are a terrifying force in the galaxy, responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands.

Collectors generate permanent stasis fields around themselves, creating nightmarish red-shifted energy fields. In battle, they hold position whenever possible, relying on their aggressive biotics and nearly limitless power. Several types of bipedal Collectors have been identified, including minions, defenders, zealots, assassins, and artillery-operators.

Acting together, Collectors have imprisoned entire cities in stasis. While no definitive forensic accounting exists to explain the fate of those imprisoned, leading speculation is that victims are harvested for scientific experimentation and neuro-biological repurposing.

Drell Edit

Two centuries ago, the hanar helped 375,000 members of the drell race migrate to the hanar homeworld, Kahje, to escape the environmental extermination that had claimed the remaining 11 billion drell.

Nearly all drell demonstrate tremendous loyalty to their famously reclusive saviors. The intimacy of their relationship, expressed in a formal sociopolitical alliance called the Compact, also results in extremely close personal relations in which some drell actually learn hanar Soul names. While most drell reside on Kahje, some assist hanar off-world as envoys, researchers, co-investors, wayfarers, assassins or otherwise, eager to help their saviors. For a century, galactic wisdom has held that behind any high-ranking hanar hides a resourceful and fanatically devoted drell.

The omnivorous, reptilian drell possess an average life span of 85 galactic standard years. Having evolved on an arid planet, drell face serious illness on the hanar homeworld, especially Kepral's Syndrome, a fatal bacterial lung disease.

Elcor Edit

The elcor are a Citadel species native to the high-gravity world Dekuuna. They are massive creatures, standing on four muscular legs for increased stability. Elcor move slowly, an evolved response to an environment where a fall can be lethal. This has colored their psychology, making them deliberate and conservative.

Elcor speech is ponderous and monotone. Among themselves, scent, slight movements, and subvocalized infrasound convey shades of meaning that make a human smile seem as subtle as a fireworks display. Since their subtlety can lead to misunderstandings with other species, the elcor often go out of their way to clarify when they are being sarcastic, amused, or angry.

Dekuuna's high gravity impedes mountain formation. Most of the world consists of flat, open plains which prehistoric elcor wandered across in small family bands. Modern elcor still prefer open sky, and become restless and uncomfortable on long starship journeys.

Geth Edit

The geth are a humanoid race of networked A.I.s. They were created by the quarians 300 years ago as tools of labor and war. When the geth showed signs of self-evolution, the quarians attempted to exterminate them. The geth won the resulting war. This example has led to legal, systematic repression of artificial intelligences in galactic society.

The geth possess a unique distributed intelligence. An individual has rudimentary animal instincts, but as their numbers and proximity increase, the apparent intelligence of each individual improves. In groups, they can reason, analyze situations, and use tactics as well as any organic race.

Geth space is located at the trailing end of the Perseus Arm, beyond the lawless Terminus Systems. The Perseus Veil, an obscuring "dark nebula" of opaque gas and dust, lies between their space and the Terminus Systems.

Hanar Edit

The hanar are a Citadel species known for excessive politeness. They speak with scrupulous precision, and take offense at improper language. Hanar that expect to deal with other species take special courses to help them unlearn their tendency to take offense at improper speech.

All hanar have two names. The Face Name is known to the world; the Soul Name is kept for use among close friends and relations. Hanar never refer to themselves in the first person in conversation with someone they know on a Face Name basis. To do so is considered egotistical, so instead they refer to themselves as "this one", or the impersonal "it".

Their homeworld, Kahje, has 90% ocean cover and orbits an energetic white star, resulting in a permanent blanket of clouds. Due to the presence of Prothean ruins on the world, many hanar worship them, and hanar myths often speak of an elder race that civilized them by teaching them language.

Keepers Edit

When the asari discovered the Citadel, they also discovered the keepers, a docile multi-limbed insect race that seemingly exists only to maintain and repair the great Prothean station.

Early attempts to communicate with or study the keepers were failures, and it is now illegal to interfere with or impede keeper activity. Because they are completely non-threatening, keepers have become virtually invisible to everyone else. Similarly, they seem indifferent to other species, except for their tendency to help new arrivals integrate themselves into the Citadel.

No matter how many keepers die due to old age, violence, or accident, they maintain a constant number. No one has discovered the source of new keepers, but some hypothesize they are genetic constructs: biological androids created somewhere deep in the inaccessible core of the Citadel itself.

Krogan Edit

The krogan evolved in a hostile and vicious environment. Until the invention of gunpowder weapons, "eaten by predators" was still the number one cause of krogan fatalities. Afterwards, it was "death by gunshot".

When the salarians discovered them, the krogan were a brutal, primitive species struggling to survive a self-inflicted nuclear winter. The salarians culturally uplifted them, teaching them to use and build modern technology so they could serve as soldiers in the Rachni War.

Liberated from the harsh conditions of their homeworld, the quick-breeding krogan experienced an unprecedented population explosion. They began to colonize nearby worlds, even though these worlds were already inhabited. The Krogan Rebellions lasted nearly a century, only ending when the turians unleashed the genophage, a salarian-developed bioweapon that crushed all krogan resistance.

The genophage makes only one in 1,000 pregnancies viable, and today the krogan are a slowly dying breed. Understandably, the krogan harbor a grudge against all other species, especially the turians.

Praetorians Edit

Hovering tanks resembling cross between an octopus and a giant crab, praetorians are well-armored killing machines of mysterious origin.

Praetorians employ redundant systems from the multiple humans encased within them. Armed with eye-mounted particle beams, they are capable of unleashing devastating close-range energy attacks that also regenerate their shields. Within hours after death, the organic components of praetorian corpses disintegrate into a denatured pus, while their mechanisms turn to ash. One specimen, autopsied within minutes of death, reveals a clue: nanomachines may disintegrate the praetorian's organic and mechanical components before self-destructing.

If correct, this self-rendering hypothesis could account for three documented cases of dead praetorians apparently releasing (or becoming) clouds of neurotoxic gases, causing suffocating paralysis and nearly-instant death. In one remote facility, 17 soldiers died from gas inhalation while assessing the praetorian. Any personnel in the vicinity of dead praetorians are urged to protect themselves with breathing apparatus.

Quarians Edit

Driven from their home system by the geth nearly three centuries ago, most quarians now live aboard the Migrant Fleet, a flotilla of fifty thousand vessels ranging in size from passenger shuttles to mobile space stations.

Home to 17 million quarians, the flotilla understandably has scarce resources. Because of this, each quarian must go on a rite of passage known as the Pilgrimage when they come of age. They leave the fleet and only return once they have found something of value they can bring back to their people.

Other species tend to look down on the quarians for creating the geth and for the negative impact their fleet has when it enters a system. This has led to many myths and rumors about the quarians, including the belief that underneath their clothes and breathing masks, they are actually cybernetic creatures: a combination of organic and synthetic parts.

Reapers Edit

A myth common to several cultures in the galaxy, Reapers were imagined to be space monsters who consumed entire stars. Archaeologists and mythologists attempting to uncover sources for such myths have yielded little, except interstellar religious themes of all-consuming devils common to primitive cultures.

Reapers: Indoctrination Edit

Reaper "indoctrination" is an insidious means of corrupting organic minds, "reprogramming" the brain through physical and psychological conditioning using electromagnetic fields, infrasonic and ultrasonic noise, and other subliminal methods. The Reaper's resulting control over the limbic system leaves the victim highly susceptible to its suggestions.

Organics undergoing indoctrination may complain of headaches and buzzing or ringing in their ears. As time passes, they have feelings of "being watched" and hallucinations of "ghostly" presences. Ultimately, the Reaper gains the ability to use the victim's body to amplify its signals, manifesting as "alien" voices in the mind.

Indoctrination can create perfect deep cover agents. A Reaper's "suggestions" can manipulate victims into betraying friends, trusting enemies, or viewing the Reaper itself with superstitious awe. Should a Reaper subvert a well-placed political or military leader, the resulting chaos can bring down nations.

Long-term physical effects of the manipulation are unsustainable, Higher mental functioning decays, ultimately leaving the victim a gibbering animal. Rapid indoctrination is possible, but causes this decay in days or weeks. Slow, patient indoctrination allows the thrall to last for months or years.

Sovereign Edit

The flagship of the rogue ex-Spectre Saren Arterius, Sovereign is a devastating dreadnought of unprecedented power.

At two kilometers long, Sovereign was believed to have been powered by a gigantic element zero core, the only energy source potent enough to land the massive vessel on a planet.

During the Eden Prime War, the ship unleashed its peerless destructive force against which Citadel Council ships were defenseless. With a virtually indestructible flagship and a crew of fanatic geth and krogan, Saren nearly succeeded in wiping out all his enemies. Only the resourcefulness and bravery of the commander and crew of the SSV Normandy stopped him.

The overwhelming power of Sovereign ignited bizarre speculations in tabloid media that the vessel was sent by extragalactic invaders, or was - despite indeterminate photographic evidence at best - a single giant robot. Some sources even claimed Sovereign was alive. Such conjecture, however baseless, remains to this day.

Volus Edit

The volus are a member species of the Citadel with their own embassy, but they are also a client race of the turians. Centuries ago, they were voluntarily absorbed into the Hierarchy, effectively trading their mercantile prowess for turian military protection.

Irune, their homeworld, lies far beyond the normal life zone of its star. However, the world has a high-pressure greenhouse atmosphere that traps enough heat to support an ammonia-based biochemistry. As a result, the volus must wear pressure suits and breathers when dealing with other species as conventional nitrogen/oxygen air mixtures are poisonous to them, and in the low pressure atmospheres tolerable to most species, their flesh will actually split open.

Volus culture is tribal, bartering lands and even people to gain status. This culture of exchange inclines them to economic pursuits. It was the volus who authored the Unified Banking Act, and they continue to monitor and balance the Citadel economy.

Vorcha Edit

Although they resemble a mammal-reptile cross, the vorcha have no terrestrial analogue. They are humanoid in form, but vorcha have "clusters" of non-differentiated neoblast cells, like those of Earth's planarian worms. Damaged vorcha cells mature into specialized structures to alleviate injury or stress. Transformations include thicker skin following injury, lung adaptation for barely-breathable atmospheres, and stronger cardio-skeletal muscle under high gravity. Skull capacity and brain size do not change, and vorcha rarely make more than one somatic overhaul.

Vorcha assault each other frequently, causing their young to gain strength, intelligence, and resilience. As a result, vorcha see inflicting and receiving pain as normal communication. Few vorcha study professions, in part because their average life expectancy is only 20 years. Because vorcha can eat and breathe nearly anything, they can live almost anywhere, but racism prevents them from integrating into most societies that dismiss them as vermin. They have few employment options beyond krogan mercenary bands.

Secondary Codex Entries Edit

Collectors Edit

Living beyond the Omega 4 mass relay in the Terminus Systems, the mysterious Collector species is glimpsed so rarely as to be taken for a myth by most in galactic society. In reality, Collectors are human-sized insectoid bipeds and can resemble massive winged beetles. They are a terrifying force in the galaxy, responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands.

Collectors generate permanent stasis fields around themselves, creating nightmarish red-shifted energy fields. In battle, they hold position whenever possible, relying on their aggressive biotics and nearly limitless power. Several types of bipedal Collectors have been identified, including minions, defenders, zealots, assassins, and artillery-operators.

Acting together, Collectors have imprisoned entire cities in stasis. While no definitive forensic accounting exists to explain the fate of those imprisoned, leading speculation is that victims are harvested for scientific experimentation and neurobiological repurposing.

Collectors: Collector General Edit

Cerberus xenobiologists believed that until recently that the Collectors were coordinated by a biologically active caste, similar to other insectoid alien species. New evidence suggests the Collectors have a singular commander, a so-called "Collector General" that has never been seen on the battlefield. Instead, it selects its minions as remote platforms for its consciousness in a process that has been likened to a biological hack or a cybernetic version of demonic possession.

The Collector General can send a secure signal to any one of its minions, smoothly take control of their motor functions, and awaken their previously dormant biotic potential. In a matter of seconds, even the lowliest Collector drone can be upgraded to a battle-hardened biotic commander. If the Collector dies, the General can simply activate and control another body.

Postmortem analysis reveals that this "command signal" relies on cybernetic implants directly installed in the Collectors' cerebellums, but how the technology functions is presently unknown. Coordinating sensory input and motor functions simultaneous with remotely amplifying biotic abilities is beyond the grasp of current human science. Why such an advanced species would be interested in humans is puzzling. More disturbing still, victims of the Collectors say the General has spoken to them and referred to itself by a human name: Harbinger.

Collectors: Harbinger Edit

While monitoring outgoing transmissions sent by the mysterious leader of the Collectors to his minions on the battlefield, Cerberus intelligence experts also intercepted incoming transmissions. The signals were encrypted commands sent to the Collector General from a source outside the galaxy. This directing intelligence is likely the Reaper that refers to itself as “Harbinger.”

This indicates that the Collector General, previously thought of as a puppeteer-like figure, was essentially a mere conduit through which Harbinger mobilized the Collectors’ mission to protect and nurture an embryonic Reaper by providing it a steady supply of humans. In this way, the Collectors allowed the proto-Reaper to incorporate the human genome into its own construction, though why a Reaper would want such a thing is still unclear.

Collectors: Oculi Edit

An oculus is a mechanical servitor of the Collectors, apparently built with a single purpose -- to find and eliminate threats. Its outer structure has three apertures that house long-range detection equipment similar to those found on deep-space probes, used to find and track targets from near-stellar distances. Contragrav mass effect fields allow an oculus to move easily through space or atmosphere in pursuit of its prey, and a large central lens serves as the emission center for its weapons platform. All four of its lenses have a titanium iris covering that prevents the detector's optics from scratching due to interstellar dust or atmospheric residue.

Upon its destruction, more of the oculus' features become apparent. Its interior houses fibers of near-inorganic nerves, indicating that a Collector drone has been stripped down to its central nervous system, reinforced with interfacial gel that can withstand hard vacuum, and repurposed to pilot the oculus for the rest of its existence.

The central weapon is a strange one, operating on alien principles. It appears to use mass effect fields and directed energy to attack the strong nuclear force that holds its targets' atoms together, producing heat and light in an air atmosphere and causing irradiating gamma particles to burst from any heavy metals targeted by the beam. Such a weapon could easily cut through shields, and leave its target dying with just a glancing hit.

Drell: Biology Edit

Drell are omnivorous reptile-like humanoids with an average life span of 85 galactic standard years. They give live birth to their young who are capable of eating solid food from the moment they are born. Drell appearance is very similar to asari and humans, but their muscle tissue is slightly denser than that of humans giving them a wiry strength. Many of their more reptilian features are concealed, like a three chambered heart with a muscular ridge that is capable of shunting oxygenated or deoxygenated blood as needed.

One unique characteristic, however, is the hyoid bone in their throats which allows them to inflate their throats and produce vocal sounds outside the human range. Would-be assassins have noted that these two features make drell extremely hard to strangle or suffocate.

Because the drell ancestors emerged from arid, rocky deserts the humid ocean-covered hanar homeworld of Kahje proved tolerable only when the drell stayed inside a climate-controlled dome city. Due to this huge disparity in the two species' homeworld environments the leading cause of death among drell on Kahje is a bacterial lung disease called Kepral's Syndrome.

Within a generation of the drell's arrival on the planet the disease had become resistant to hanar antibiotics and other advanced treatments. Once an infection settles in, death is slow but imminent. Transplants may buy time, but as the infection spreads to other major organs there comes a point of diminishing returns and eventual system failure.

Drell: Culture Edit

Eight centuries ago, the already arid drell homeworld, Rakhana, began it swift descent into lifelessness due to disastrous industrial expansion. Because their population was bursting at 11 billion and they did not possess interstellar flight capacity, the drell would have been doomed without the intervention of the hanar.

Following first contact, the hanar spent ten years transporting 375,000 willing drell to their own homeworld, Kahje. The remaining billions perished in the dying world, warring against each other for diminishing sources of water and food. Today, only a few thousand survive on Rakhana in clusters never exceeding a few hundred. Now a cemetery world, Rakhana's population can double during pilgrimage season.

Drell have been part of the galactic community for almost two centuries. Most reside on Kahje, content to coexist with the hanar. Those who leave Kahje tend to be adventurers. Gifted by the hanar with acute perception of interspecies body language, solitary drell travelers often seek out new species elsewhere, adapting that species' culture and rarely returning to Kahje. Such drell number in the thousands and are scattered across the galaxy, tending towards quiet, integrated lives.

On Kahje, the hanar afford the drell every opportunity to thrive. While outsiders and even some hanar regard the drell as junior partners, if not actual servants, drell have integrated themselves into every level of hanar society as respected productive citizens.

Geth: Armatures Edit

Armatures are quadruped all-terrain heavy weapons platforms, akin to the armored fighting vehicles of other races. Geth being synthetic intelligences, armatures are not crewed vehicles, but intelligent entities, capable of independent decision-making and learning.

Armatures are equipped with heavy kinetic barriers. Their main cannon, mounted on the articulated "head" turret, appears to be a highly efficient conventional mass accelerator. It is capable of firing in anti-personnel and anti-tank modes. Some armatures carry drones into battle, presumably for reconnaissance purposes. Others host a swarm of insect-sized repair microbots.

Geth: Culture Edit

The most remarkable aspect of geth culture is that it may not exist at all. Geth are a network intelligence; a single entity in myriad bodies. They share data with one another, whether discrete facts or "memories": audiovisual recordings of experiences and logs of thought-processes. Any event experienced by one geth is uploaded to the group mind, so that all geth, everywhere, "remember" such an event as if they'd experienced it themselves.

No one knows whether the geth develop personalities as organic-created AIs do. If an organic-designed AI is transferred into another quantum bluebox, its personality is reset. Most geth programs transfer from one hardware platform to another constantly; if a geth needs to travel to another star, it downloads into a starship body. If it needs to replace a piece of malfunctioning hardware, it downloads into a small body with hands. If geth are reset at transfer, it would make development of individual personalities unlikely.

Records of the quarian war suggest the geth have no concept of self-preservation. They do not flinch from gunfire, and do not hesitate to sacrifice themselves if it allows their fellows an advantage. Thousands of mobile platforms were expended assaulting quarian positions, but file-sharing between platforms ensured their memories and experience would not be lost. Geth are therefore immortal; if their hardware is destroyed, archival copies of their programs and databases can be downloaded into a new body.

With the gap in contact between the quarian war and the arrival of Sovereign, the only proven fact about the geth is that they were isolationists for centuries. They never ventured outside the Perseus Veil, but no organic ship that entered their territory ever returned.

Geth: Heretics Edit

Conversation with the geth programs dubbed "Legion" have brought to light a profound schism in geth society. Where Saren Arterius approached the geth in the dreadnought Sovereign, some of them chose to follow him; most did not. Saren's followers were allowed to leave geth society, but were dubbed "heretics" by those that remained.

This revelation implies several things. First, the majority of geth chose not to attack organic society. Second, the geth forces the Council and Alliance fleets have battled the last two years represent only a small portion of their actual military and economic power, perhaps as little as five percent of mainstream geth society. Third, this schism suggest that individual geth possess more free will and perhaps even personality than previously suspected. Without such individuality, no geth could have deviated from the group decision to join or reject Saren's mission. There could not have been a division.

Finally, there is the matter of Legion's word choice. The geth used the English word "heretics" to describe Saren's followers. Of the many words Legion could have chosen (nonconformists, dissenters, rebels, etc.) only the word "heretic" suggests a broadly accepted geth philosophy or religion, and that the actions of Saren's allies violated the orthodoxy.

Geth: Hoppers Edit

The geth models collectively dubbed "hoppers" by Alliance forces are electronic warfare platforms. They can project electromagnetic radiation across a broad spectrum as an offensive weapon. They can also perform cyber warfare attacks against the onboard computers of body armor hardsuits and weapons, adversely affecting their performance.

The structure of hoppers consist of an advanced and highly elastic artificial muscle material. This allows a hopper to compress its entire body for powerful leaps. Hoppers also have thousands of molecule-scale "barbs" on the surface of their hands and feet, which are used to cling to walls and ceilings. Hoppers are very difficult targets, leaping from one surface to another in rapid succession.

The quarians have no record of any geth models similar to hoppers. This new morphotype must have been developed over the last three hundred years by the geth themselves. This is troubling proof that the geth are continuing to move towards technological singularity. Experts in synthetic life are intrigued that hoppers appear to be even more organic than the baseline geth.

The identified subtypes of hopper have been codenamed Sapper, Stalker, and Ghost.

Geth: Technology Edit

The most difficult aspect of geth existence for organics to comprehend is that a body is meaningless to geth. The biped form commonly perceived as a geth is nothing more than a "mobile platform." A geth's software -- hundreds of programs whose interactions mimic organic consciousness -- can be installed in any given hardware. The geth that was a bipedal soldier an hour ago may now be a quadruped heavy armature and, in another hour, might be a starship. Between tasks, geth programs upload to gigantic space station mainframes that allow billions of programs to exchange thoughts and memories with minimal lag.

The claim that the geth are an example of the extreme risk posed by AI development is misleading. As opposed to the "top down" design of organic-created AIs, in which hardware and software are specifically designed to achieve consciousness, geth are a "bottom up" model. They were never intended to possess more than animal-level, trainable reasoning.

Designed as VI-driven robots -- not significantly different from modern security mechs -- geth consciousness developed as their adaptive learning programs interacted with one another via networked processing. The geth code-base discovered that three individual robots using a wireless local network to form a single mind could perform many tasks more efficiently than they could as individuals. As these local networks were more heavily exploited, they reached a critical mass of processing, achieving consciousness.

Modern geth retain this remarkable interconnectivity, constantly exchanging data with one another and networking to increase their cognitive abilities. To geth, these mind-sharing abilities are as natural and unconscious as breathing is to most organics.

Keepers Edit

When the asari discovered the Citadel, they also discovered the keepers, a docile multi-limbed insect race that seemingly exists only to maintain and repair the great Prothean station.

Early attempts to communicate with or study the keepers were failures, and it is now illegal to interfere with or impede keeper activity. Because they are completely non-threatening, keepers have become virtually invisible to everyone else. Similarly, they seem indifferent to other species, except for their tendency to help new arrivals integrate themselves into the Citadel.

No matter how many keepers die due to old age, violence, or accident, they maintain a constant number. No one has discovered the source of new keepers, but some hypothesize they are genetic constructs: biological androids created somewhere deep in the inaccessible core of the Citadel itself.

Krogan: Ancient History Edit

The lack of adequately preserved archives presents a significant obstacle to research into ancient krogan history. Nevertheless, recent archaeological discoveries have shed new light on the topic, revealing a society once rich with cultural, architectural, and artistic accomplishments.

Newly discovered ruins reveal that the krogan had particularly advanced understandings of structural and geotechnical engineering, as compared to other cultures at similar stages of development. Old krogan architecture demonstrates seismic loading techniques that would have both resisted earthquakes and diffused the small-scale vibrations from vehicles in their sprawling cities. Curiously, however, Tuchanka has little natural tectonic activity. Instead, researchers believe the ancient krogan were concerned with safe cohabitation with one of the planet's apex predators -- Kalros, the Mother of all Thresher Maws.

Prior to the genophage, krogan population growth was limited by predation, disease, and war. Even so, the birth rate exploded once the krogan achieved industrialization, leading to wars over resources and living space. Other species on Tuchanka suffered greatly as the krogan expanded. When the krogan ran out of land, they settled into an arms race that ended in nuclear devastation. Tuchanka's relatively short Golden Age was at an end.

But this ancient history may yet aid the modern krogan. Some of the techniques and technology discovered in the ruins could be used to improve standard colonization equipment, signaling economic renewal for the krogan at last.

Krogan: Biology Edit

The krogan evolved in a lethal ecology. Over millions of years, the grim struggle to survive larger predators, virulent disease, and resource scarcity on their homeworld, Tuchanka, turned the lizards into quintessential survivors. Perhaps the most telling indicator of Tuchanka's lethality is the krogan eyes. Although they are a predators species by any standard definition, their eyes evolved to be wide-set, as any Earth prey species like deer and cattle. Krogan eyes have a 240-degree arc of vision, better suited for spotting enemies sneaking up on them than for pursuit.

Physically, the krogan are nigh-indestructible, with a tough hide impervious to any melee weapon short of a molecular blade. While they feel pain, it does not affect their ability to concentrate. They have multiple functioning examples of all major organs, and can often survive the loss of one or two of any type. Rather than a nervous system, they have an electrically conductive second circulatory system. A krogan can never be paralyzed - they may lose some fluid, but it can be replaced by the body in time.

The hump on krogan's back stores water and fats that help the krogan survive lean times. Large humps are a point of pride; being well-fed implies the krogan is a superior predator.

The most widely-known biological feature of the krogan is their incredible birth rate and rapid maturity. Once freed from the hostile cauldron of Tuchanka, the krogan population swelled into a numberless horde. Only the genophage kept them from out-breeding the combined Council races. Now the rare krogan females capable of bringing a child to term are treated like strategic resources: warlords will trade them at diplomacy or (more frequently) fight wars over them.

Krogan: Blood Rage Edit

Feared throughout the galaxy as nightmarishly violent warriors, the krogan are both aided and hobbled by their legendary "blood rage".

In the grip of that madness, krogan become seemingly invincible, but are merely totally unresponsive to pain. "Blood-enraged" krogan fight regardless of injury level, to the extent that krogan shorn of all four limbs continue gnashing past brain death until total somatic death.

The supremely resilient, hyper-violent blood rage is the synergy of two aspects of krogan neurology. The first aspect is a positive feedback loop in which adrenalin, also activated by fear or rage, suppresses serotonin, the brain chemical that induces serenity. The second is the over-developed krogan limbic system. In krogan, as in humans, fear or rage shifts mental control from the frontal lobes, responsible for reasoning, to the limbic system, responsible for aggression and survival. During that shift, krogan and humans exhibit diminished capacity for logic and self-control.

Prior to the ecological devastation of Tuchanka, blood rage was extremely rare among the krogan. Back then, while all krogan were capable of heightened anger and violence in fight-or-flight scenarios, almost none experienced insensitivity to pain. The one percent who did were those suffering serotonin-suppression. At that time, krogan society regarded the condition as pathological, and medicated or imprisoned sufferers to protect them and society.

Following nuclear ecocide four millennia ago, evolution selected only those krogan afflicted with blood rage for survival. Today there is no living memory among the krogan of a life without mindless, murderous fury.

Krogan: Culture Edit

The harsh krogan homeworld conditioned the krogan psychology for toughness just as it did the body. Krogan have always had a tendency to be selfish, unsympathetic, and blunt. They respect strength and self-reliance and are neither surprised nor offended by treachery. The weak and selfless do not live long. In their culture, "looking out for number one" is simply a matter of course.

After their defeat in the Rebellions, the very concept of krogan leadership was discredited. Where a warlord could once command enough power to bring entire solar systems to heel and become Overlord, these days it is rare for a single leader to have more than 1,000 warriors swear allegiance to him. Most krogan trust and serve no one but themselves.

This solitary attitude stems in part from a deep sense of fatalism and futility, a profound social effect of the genophage that caused krogan numbers to dwindle to a relative handful. Not only are they angry that the entire galaxy seems out to get them, the krogan are also generally pessimistic about their race's chances of survival. The surviving krogan see no point to building for the future; there will be no future. The krogan live with an attitude of "kill, pillage, and be selfish, for tomorrow we die."

Krogan: Genophage Edit

The genophage bioweapon was created to end the Krogan Rebellions. From the start, the krogan had overwhelmed the Council. Only timely first contact with the turians saved the Council races. The turians fought the krogans to a standstill, but the sheer weight of krogan numbers indicated the war could not be won through conventional means. The turians collaborated with the salarians to genetically engineer a counter to the rapid breeding of the krogan.

The genophage virus gained the energy to replicate by "eating" key genetic sequences. Every cell in every krogan had to be altered for the weapon to be foolproof; otherwise the krogan could have used gene therapy to fix the affected tissues. Once a genophage strain could find no more genes to eat, it would starve and die, limited spin-off mutation and contamination. This "created" genetic flaw is hereditary.

The salarians believed the genophage would be used as a deterrent, a position the turians viewed as naive. Once the project was complete, the turians mass produced and deployed it. The krogan homeworld, their colonies, and all occupied worlds were infected.

The resulting mutation made only one in a thousand krogan pregnancies carry to term. It did not reduce fertility, but offspring viability. The rare females able to carry children to term became prizes the krogan warlords fought brutal battles over.

The krogan are a shadow of their former glory. While the Rebellions took place centuries ago, they are constantly reminded of the horror of the genophage and of their inability to counter it. The release of the genophage is still controversial, bitterly debated in many circles.

Krogan: Krogan Rebellions Edit

After the Rachni War, the quick-breeding krogan expanded at the expense of their neighbors. Warlords leveraged their veteran soldiers to seize living space while the Council races were still grateful. Over centuries, the krogan conquered world after world. There was always "just one more" needed. When the Council finally demanded withdrawal from the asari colony of Lusia, krogan Overlord Kredak stormed off the Citadel, daring the Council to take their worlds back.

But the Council had taken precautions. The finest STG operators and asari huntresses had been drafted into a covert "observation force", the Office of Special Tactics and Reconnaissance. The Spectres opened the war with crippling strategic strikes. Krogan planets went dark as computer viruses flooded the extranet. Sabotaged antimatter refineries disappeared in blue-white annihilation. Headquarters stations shattered into orbit-clogging debris, rammed by pre-placed suicide freighters.

Still, this only delayed the inevitable. The war would have been lost if not for first contact with the turians, who responded to krogan threats with a prompt declaration of war. Being on the far side of krogan space from the Council, the turians advanced rapidly into the lightly-defended krogan rear areas. The krogan responded by dropping space stations and asteroids on turian colonies. Three worlds were rendered completely uninhabitable.

This was precisely the wrong approach to take with the turians. Each is first and foremost a public servant, willing to risk his life to protect his comrades. Rather than increasing public war weariness, krogan tactics stiffened turian resolve.

The arrival of turian task forces saved many worlds from the warlords' marauding fleets, but it took the development of the genophage bioweapon to end the war. There were decades of unrest afterwards. Rogue warlords and holdout groups of insurgents refused to surrender, or disappeared into the frontier systems to become pirates.

Krogan: Military Doctrine Edit

Traditional krogan tactics were built on attritional mass-unit warfare. Equipped with cheap rugged gear, troop formations were powerful but inflexible. Command and control was very centralized; soldiers in the field who saw a target contacted their commanders behind the lines to arrange fire support.

Since the genophage, the krogan can no longer afford the casualties of the old horde attacks. The Battle Masters are a match for any ten soldiers of another species. To a Battle Master, killing is a science. They focus on developing clean, brute-force economy of motion that exploits their brutal strength to incapacitate enemies with a swift single blow of overwhelming power.

This change of focus from mass-unit warfare to maximal efficiency has increased employment demand in the fields of security and "muscle for hire". Due to the unsavory reputation of the krogan, most of these jobs are on the far side of the law.

Battle Masters are not "spit and polish", but they do believe in being well-armed and equipped, preferably with a gun for each limb. They are callous and brutal, but methodical and disciplined. They use any means at their disposal to achieve their goals, no matter how reprehensible. Hostage-taking and genocide are acceptable means to ensure a quiet occupation with few krogan casualties.

The krogan serving with Saren's forces appear to be returning to the old style of mass attritional combat. They also work in close cooperation with supporting geth units, who fill in the roles occupied by combat drones in other armies.

Biotics are rare among the krogan. Those that exist are viewed with suspicion and fear. The krogan see this aura of fear as a useful quality for an officer, and often promote them. Combat drones and other high-tech equipment are likewise in short supply.

Quarians: Economy Edit

The Migrant Fleet has little economic base, operating in a state of perpetual "hand-to-mouth". While quarian ships include light manufacturing and assembly plants, they lack heavy industries such as refining and shipbuilding. The fleet has tankers for water purification and oxygen cracking, but with the space-intensive nature of agriculture limits food production. A single disaster could destroy the fragile balance.

The quarians earn income in creative ways. Because the government is obliged to provide food, water, air, and medical support for every individual, the Conclave strategically determines the course of the Fleet to bring in resources and income. A species who suspects the Migrant Fleet is heading towards their space often offers a "gift" of surplus starships, fuel, and resources to alter course.

As the fleet passes through the a system, swarms of mining vessels work over asteroids for metals and siliceous materials and cometary bodies for water ice and organics. Quarian miners are adept at locating and strip-mining space-borne resources. This sparks conflict with corporations already working the system. Large mining concerns spend millions on lobbyists and public relations portraying the quarians as locusts, devouring the resources of a system before moving on.

The greatest asset of the quarians is their rarefied skills. Most are experienced miners. Due to their life of perpetual salvage and repair, they are skilled engineers and technicians. More than once, the very corporations that lobby against the quarians have made back room deals with the Fleet, arranging for skilled quarians to fill space engineering jobs that other species would demand higher wages for. Quarians are widely hated among the working classes. "The quarians are coming to take our jobs" is a common response to the Fleet's approach.

Quarians: Government Edit

Due to the quarians' precarious existence and the need to enforce strict rationing, government is somewhat autocratic. The Migrant Fleet's operations are directed by the Admiralty, a board of five military officers who are advised by a legislative body called the Conclave.

Each vessel in the Fleet has the right to send representatives to the Conclave aboard the flagship. The number of representatives is based on crew size. Larger clans, with bigger ships and more votes, form the cores of political blocs. Opposition comes from the Outriders' Coalition, with delegates from thousands of smaller ships.

The Admiralty defers to the Conclave's decisions in most circumstances. However, if all five members agree a Conclave decision jeopardized the survival of the fleet, and cannot get the Conclave to address their concerns, they have the right to summarily overturn the legislative decision. After the Admiralty uses this extraordinary power, they must resign. If the Admiralty does not step down after using their veto the rest of the military is obliged to arrest them.

Each ship captain has authority over the vessel, but is advised by an elected civilian Council, just as the Admiralty is advised by the Conclave. This relationship may range from cooperation to polite tolerance to outright hostility, but any captain who overrules his council without good reason is relieved of command by the Admiralty.

Many quarian ships are owned by clans who pool their resources to purchase used vessels from private sellers. Large ships are prestigious for big, rich clans, but a small ship means status for a small clan with enough personal wealth to afford a private vessel. Clan vessel captains are not subject to dismissal by the Admiralty; abusive captains are a "family" problem if they do not disrupt the operations of the fleet.

Quarians: Law and Defense Edit

Although the Conclave establishes civil law much as any planet-based democracy, enforcement and trials are more unique. After the flight from the geth, there were few constables to police the millions of civilians aboard the Fleet, so the navy parceled out marine squads to maintain order and enforce the law. Today, quarian marines have evolved training and tactics akin to civilian police, but remain adept at combat in the confined spaces of a starship, and fully under the command of the military.

Once taken into custody, the accused is brought before the ship's captain for judgment. While the ship's council may make recommendations, tradition holds that the captain has absolute authority in matters of discipline.

Most are lenient, assigning additional or more odious maintenance tasks aboard the ship. Persistent recidivists are "accidentally" left on the next habitable world. This practice of abandoning criminals on other people's planets is a point of friction between the quarians and the systems they pass through. Captains rarely have another choice; with space and resources at a premium, supporting a non-productive prison population is not an option.

In the early years, many quarians freighters were armed and used as irregular "privateers". Civilian ships still show a strong preference for armament, making them unpopular targets for pirates. Though they have rebuilt their military, there are still mere hundreds of warships to protect the tens of thousands of ships. The quarian navy follows strict routines of patrol, and takes no chances. If the intent of an approaching ship can't be ascertained, they shoot to kill.

Quarians: Migrant Fleet Edit

The Migrant Fleet is the largest concentration of starfaring vessels in the galaxy, sprawling across millions of kilometers. It can take days for the entire fleet to pass through a mass relay.

When the quarians fled their homeworld, the Fleet was a motley aggregation of freighters, shuttles, industrial vessels, and the odd warship. After three centuries, all have been modified to support larger crews as comfortably as possible. As the quarians achieved stability, they began weeding out the ships least suitable for long-term habitation, selling them and pooling the money to buy larger and more spaceworthy hulls. This process is ongoing, as vessels wear out and break down.

While some ships enjoy dedicated cabins with full privacy and sanitary facilities, many more are former freighters, whose cargo bays and containers are pressurized and divided into family spaces using simple metal cubicle bulkheads. The quarians enliven these austere spaces with colorful quilts and tapestries, which also help muffle sound.

The day-to-day operation of the fleet - traffic control, station-keeping, supply distribution, and so on - are under military jurisdiction. Though ship captains have the authority to deviate from their assigned positions and may leave the fleet at any time, they are assumed to do so at their own risk. As the Migrant Fleet moves around the galaxy, many ships split off to pursue individual goals, returning days or years later.

Quarians: Pilgrimage Edit

When quarians of the Migrant Fleet reach young adulthood, they must leave their birth ship and find a new crew to accept them as permanent residents. To prove themselves, they must recover something of value. This is offered to their prospective captain as proof that they will not be a mere burden on the shoestring resources of the ship.

This process is called the Pilgrimage. Stripped of ritual, the Pilgrimage is merely an attempt to maintain genetic diversity within the small, relatively isolated population bases that make up the Migrant Fleet. If the young stayed and married within their birth vessel, the risk of inbreeding would increase sharply.

Quarians are surgically fitted with their various immunity-boosted implants in preparation for leaving on Pilgrimage. Having grown within the sterile, controlled environments of the Migrant Fleet ships, quarians have virtually no natural immune system.

Quarians: Religion Edit

The ancient quarians practiced ancestor worship. Even after abandoning faith for secularism, quarians continued to revere the wisdom of elders. As time passed and technology advanced, they inevitably turned their knowledge to preserving the personalities and memories of the elderly as computer virtual intelligences. These recordings became a repository of knowledge and wisdom, stored in a central databank and available through any extranet connection.

They held no illusions that this was like a form of immortality; like all virtual intelligences, their electronically-preserved ancestors were not truly sapient. This was considered a surmountable problem; sapience could surely be reduced to simple mathematics.

The quarians began exhaustive research into creating artificial intelligence so they could learn to escape the bounds of mortality and give their ancestral records true awareness. Unfortunately, the life the quarians created did not accept the same truths they did. The geth destroyed the ancestor databanks when they took over.

In the centuries since they evacuated their homeworld, most quarians have returned to religion in various forms. Many believe the rise of the geth and the destruction of their 'ancestors' were chastisement for arrogantly forsaking the old ways and venerating self-made idols.

Others have a more philosophical outlook, believing their race was indeed arrogant, but no supernatural agency lay behind the geth revolt. Rather, the quarians' actions wrought their own doom. Either way, every quarian would agree that their own hubris cost them their homeworld.

Varren Edit

Varren are omnivores with a preference for living prey. Originally native to the krogan homeworld of Tuchanka, they are, like most life from Tuchanka, savage, clannish, and consummate survivors. They are pack hunters when vulnerable prey is readily available and become scavengers when outnumbered or outclassed.

Their supreme adaptability, vicious demeanor, and rapid breeding cycle have made them ubiquitous and dangerous pests on many worlds. Virtually everywhere the krogan have been, varren infestations have followed, wreaking havoc with the native ecology.

The krogan have had a love-hate relationship with varren for millennia, alternately fighting them for territory and embracing them as treasured companions. To this day, krogan raise them as beasts of war. A common subgenus of varren has metallic silver scales, leading to the rather unusual nickname "fishdogs."

Vorcha Edit

Although they resemble a mammal-reptile cross, the vorcha have no terrestrial analogue. They are humanoid in form, but vorcha have "clusters" of non-differentiated neoblast cells, like those of Earth's planarian worms. Damaged vorcha cells mature into specialized structures to alleviate injury or stress. Transformations include thicker skin following injury, lung adaptation for barely-breathable atmospheres, and stronger cardio-skeletal muscle under high gravity. Skull capacity and brain size do not change, and vorcha rarely make more than one somatic overhaul.

Vorcha assault each other frequently, causing their young to gain strength, intelligence, and resilience. As a result, vorcha see inflicting and receiving pain as normal communication. Few vorcha study professions, in part because their average life expectancy is only 20 years. Because vorcha can eat and breathe nearly anything, they can live almost anywhere, but racism prevents them from integrating into most societies that dismiss them as vermin. They have few employment options beyond krogan mercenary bands.

Yahg Edit

The yahg are a race of massive apex predators from the world of Parnack whose rise to sentience in no way blunted their violent nature. A group of yahg is unable to cooperate until a single leader has been determined through either social maneuvering or brute force, but no grudges are held once a yahg establishes dominance. Former rivals serve their new superior's purpose with unflinching loyalty and relentless determination, a legacy of their origin as a pack species.

Their eight eyes are another sign of their hunter ancestry -- all four pairs are geared toward tracking down and predicting the movements of prey. Sophisticated and keenly developed sensitivity to movement and light have made yahgs masters at reading body language, regardless of species. Much to their short-lived chagrin, the Council's first contact teams discovered it was nearly impossible to lie to the yahg.

The yahg had technology equivalent to 20th century Earth standards when they were discovered by the Council in 2125. The Council's ambassadors approached the yahg as friends and allies instead of subordinates, a baffling sign of contempt from newcomers on Parnack. The yahg attacked when it became apparent that the alien diplomats stubbornly considered themselves sovereign people instead of new underlings. Parnack remains off-limits by order of the Council, which fears that the yahg's size, aggression, and obsession with control make them poorly suited for integration into the galactic community.

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