Writers Guide, Part 7
Hello again, Citizens. Welcome to another installment of the Star Citizen’sWriter’s Guide. Here are links to the previous installments and if you are new to this segment, please consult the caveats at the beginning of Issue #1.
- 1 Errata
- 2 The Vanduul
- 3 Tevarin
- 4 Writing For Aliens
- 5 Questions
One change from Issue 2 that we wanted to update you on, as you will find out below. But the sentence:
Convicted criminals and assimilated cultures defeated in war (such as the Tevarin) are never allowed to become Citizens and a long history of behavior deemed counter to the purposes and dictates of the UEE can cause your Citizenship to be revoked.
Now will read:
Convicted criminals are never allowed to become Citizens and a long history of behavior deemed counter to the purposes and dictates of the UEE can cause your Citizenship to be revoked.
All right, we’re going to roll right along with our second section of:
Again, I’ll invoke Caveats A & B before proceeding. To repeat, we are still building up the races, designing their appearances and their backstories, so this will be a collection of the knowledge that we’ve already released. That being said, since it’s not being told in-fiction, you’ll get a slightly better understanding (i.e. a non-dramatic explanation) of the species in question.
pronounced : / Van-DOOL /
Very little is actually known about the Vanduul as a species. They first ‘introduced’ themselves to Humanity by attacking a colony in Orion system about two hundred and fifty years ago, and things haven’t really improved since then. The UEE’s entire interaction with the Vanduul has been through combat. After the end of the Messer Era, the new Imperator attempted to stop the violence and open diplomatic relations with the Vanduul. The disparate structure of the Vanduul civilization makes it nearly impossible to negotiate with the species as a whole, but none of the individual clans offered anything but hostility — the diplomatic emissaries were exclusively met with laser fire.
One result is that we don’t know why they hate us so much. While it’s very easy to see why the UEE refers to them as barbaric, the Vanduul are not stupid or merely savages.
If the Vanduul have a homeworld, it is unknown to Humans. Some scientists posit that the planet may have been destroyed or abandoned, which scattered the Vanduul clans into a life on the drift.
Meritocracy. You are what you obtain. There is little to no communication between the different roaming clans. Each fleet operates as its own society with its own independent set of rules, laws and customs as decreed by that clan’s Chieftain.
As such, it is probably impossible to make peace or establish diplomatic relations with the Vanduul as a whole since there is no cohesive civilization.
The Vanduul’s family structure is also very distinct from Humanity. There is one tradition that exists throughout all of the Vanduul; once a child reaches adulthood (usually around the Human equivalency of 13-14), they are banished from their family. Before they go, the parents will fashion a knife for their child. This knife will be the child’s only possession as he/she sets out into adulthood. They will receive no money, housing, or support of any kind from their former family. Everything that the newly recognized adult achieves starts with the knife and grows from there.
Therefore, there is no hereditary transfer of money or influence. You get nothing for being the child of a Chieftain. You are judged by your own accomplishments, not who you were born to.
Consequently, these knives are treasured possessions that they keep for the rest of their lives. While it is possible to legitimately gain one through personal combat, if the Vanduul discover that someone has obtained a knife through theft or sale, they will take it back in the most excruciating way possible.
Banu: Some clans will trade with Banu planet-states.
Xi’An: While distance plays a factor (there are a lot of unfriendly systems between the Vanduul and the Xi’An), their limited contact has not been particularly fruitful. Some clans have established tentative trading relations but the majority of Vanduul regard the Xi’An as manipulators and cowards, while the Xi’An view the Vanduul as short-sighted barbaric thugs.
Due to the cultural emphasis on ‘self,’ the idea of higher powers aiding or affecting your life has never really caught on with the society. Therefore, the individual is held in high regard, so the closest thing to a Vanduul religion is the admiration of a specific person and what he or she was able to achieve.
Their youth are educated in the lives of exemplary Vanduul of the past: specifically the choices they made, and how they overcame their environment and distinguished themselves.
From a purely anthropological perspective, the Vanduul behave like classic hunter-gatherers. They are a very insular species. They rarely interact with those outside of their clan, even other Vanduul. If you should find yourself engaged in a conversation (trade) with a Vanduul, they will be all business. They find engaging in pleasantries to be inefficient and insulting.
In combat, the Vanduul are relentless and merciless. In a textbook raid, they will hit hard and fast and never (intentionally) leave survivors. Over the decades, they’ve adapted their tactics as they’ve learned the purpose of Human structures, so most clans will hit the CommStations first, then target landing yards to minimize the potential resistance in the air before sweeping through on foot.
Is it possible for a singular human to establish trade with the Vanduul? Yes. We haven’t figured out the exact details yet, but it will be very difficult.
pronunciation : / TEV-are-inn /
Humanity’s first interstellar enemy … and second.
The UPE first established contact with the space-faring civilization in 2541. While not as technologically advanced as us, the Tevarin were beginning to strike out into the universe. A proud, martial society, the Tevarin wanted what we had and struck first. While the battlegrounds never threatened Earth or Terra, what the Tevarin lacked technologically, they more than made up for in strategic brilliance and endurance, causing the war to last over four years. The turning point was the infamous Battle of Idris IV, which introduced a young officer, Ivar Messer, to the populace of the UPE.
After the Tevarin defeat, the UPE terraformed the Tevarin systems for Human colonization. The remaining Tevarin were either absorbed into the UPE or fled to the Banu or Xi’An systems.
In 2603, a new Tevarin Warlord, Corath’Thal, emerged from the corners of the cosmos with a rebuilt Tevarin battle-fleet and launched his first attack against the UPE systems. Their sole mission was to reclaim Elysium IV, their former homeworld. While it was a sympathetic cause that some Humans could support, the UPE wasn’t about to give up territory. This war lasted seven years and touched almost every corner of the UPE.
On June 24, 2610 SET, Corath’Thal suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Squadron 42 at the Battle of Centauri. With his fleet rapidly falling to either destruction or surrender, Corath’Thal mustered his remaining loyal pilots to make a desperate charge for Elysium IV. Though they suffered an additional 70% casualty, his fleet finally reached the atmosphere of their old homeworld. Corath’Thal and his pilots lowered their thermal shields and dove for the planet.
With this second defeat, the spirit of the Tevarin race was irrevocably broken. Imperator Messer II used the victory to cement his place as ruler of the newly christened United Empire of Earth.
Formerly Kaleeth (terraformed and colonized by Humans, renamed to Elysium IV).
Political System (Former)
The Tevarin were somewhere between a feudalistic society and an oligarchy. The military ran everything. The only way to upgrade your station in life was to distinguish yourself in combat. That being said, those not in the military weren’t ignored — since everybody contributed to the system, everybody was cared for. Some fought, others farmed.
The highest title was Warlord. It sounds much more violent than it is. The Tevarin were not a bloodthirsty race. They simply honored the art of war.
There isn’t an official Tevarin civilization or government, as the race has been defeated and assimilated into the UEE.
A few showcase Tevarin have been given Citizenship to display the UEE’s tolerance, but total Tevarin Citizens might be measured in triple (or even double) digits. The rest couldn’t care less.
Even though the Second Tevarin War ended over three hundred years ago (2610), there is a nearly culture-wide resentment of the UEE military that resonates to this day, so the number of volunteers in the UEE military is very low. The majority of Tevarin in the military arrive via the UEE judicial system. Certain Tevarin criminals are offered a choice: serve your time on QuarterDeck or do a mandated number of tours in a front-line (re: cannon-fodder/Dirty Dozen) squad, usually patched together from Tevarin and human convicts. It’s possible, though rare, for Tevarin to elevate in rank from these squads into more ‘legitimate’ branches of the UEE military.
Originally the Tevarin followed Rijora (/REE-jorr-ah/), a warrior-code similar to Bushidō on ancient Earth. The Tevarin believed in honor, fealty and duty above all else. Breaking their strict code meant excommunication or even execution in extreme cases.
After their defeat in the first war and the loss of their homeworld, the code began to lose popularity. The Second Tevarin War was an attempt to reclaim Tevarin’s previous glory. When it failed miserably, the last believers of Rijora flung themselves toward Kaleeth, burning up in the atmosphere and crashing into the planet. The rest abandoned the beliefs for good. This climactic period was known among the Tevarin as the Purge, during which time most of the Tevarin destroyed their Codices (the holy writ of Rijora).
There is a sadness and anger through most of the Tevarin; a melancholy that their species is on the decline. After their planet was lost, many Tevarin channeled their aggressive nature into addictions and violence. Tevarin mercs are noted for their ruthlessness and utter lack of fear. Gone are the honor-bound spiritual warriors of old; the killers are all that remain.
The average Tevarin finds little joy in life these days. When interacting with them, most Humans find them to be terse and cynical.
Writing For Aliens
It’s tough, especially at this point. We’re in a zone of development where we’re juggling all sorts of considerations to work out the gameplay, balance and other mechanics. In short, we’re still building and exploring this stuff for ourselves so there isn’t the usual list of hard/established facts for you to work from. We’re hoping that you’re getting enough information to start making educated guesses as to how we would handle the questions that you might have but, at the end of the day, it comes down to character. If you construct a believable character with thought-out motivations, clear needs and backstory, the facts about the society become less important. Remember that no one person represents every facet of the culture they come from.
Q: “The various ethnicities we know today have blended; now it’s planetary identification.”
Does that mean (for example) that we can’t have a character who identifies himself as Apache or French or Indonesian? (Or just that, in general, most characters don’t retain that detailed an identity?)
A: Not necessarily. Humanity has been expanding for quite some time and while there are certainly enclaves of people trying to preserve their ancestral/cultural heritage, whether it’s French or Indonesian, those are essentially Earth-bound cultures in their origin. The bulk of the populace associates more with their system and planet than with the ‘old cultures.’ As you could probably tell throughout the Spectrum Dispatches and Time Capsules, we have been blending a lot of culturally specific names to illustrate the fact that twentieth century divisions of ethnicity are shifting and merging. For example, Dr. Yusef Phan from the AI Pilots Dispatch has an Arabic first name and a Vietnamese last name.
Again, this isn’t a prohibition, if you envision your character being an Apache, just come up with a reasonable explanation in the backstory and run with it. Or, to put it another way, it would be like writing a character that takes place in modern day America or Europe who’s still maintaining Viking or Norman culture. It can be done, it just needs a little explanation to justify it.
We’re deciding what next week’s topic will be but please leave your comments and questions below. Have a great week and get writing. Until next time …